Autumn Everest 2001: The American-Canadian Expedition

About Ed's Prostheses by Tom Halverson

In August of 2000 I learned of the American-Canadian Mt. Everest Expedition, and we at Hanger started work on Edís prostheses the following month.

We had learned from Edís previous trip to Mt. McKinley what type of problems we would face. First, the cold temperature is an issue. We knew we could not put the heating element in the carbon fiber rigid socket because it would require too large a heater and too much power; the heat had to be in the liners.

One nice thing about working for the largest prosthetic and orthotic company in the U.S. is that we have a lot of resources. I called Kevin Carroll, vice president of prosthetics for Hanger P&O and asked for his thoughts on heated liners. He put me in touch with the Seattle Orthopedic Group, Inc. who was working on a new prosthetic liner that wasnít on the market yet. I explained what we wanted and that Ed needed them for the Mt. Everest expedition. They were excited about being on board. Early in 2001 we received the first liners. After fitting them, it was determined that custom liners needed to be fabricated.

While all this was going on with the liners, we also wanted to change Edís prosthetic feet. We contacted Springlite in February regarding a more flexible and lighter foot design. We then worked closely with Eric Rubin, an engineer from Springlite, who sent us two prototypes for Ed to try. Ed loved the new feet and was ready to put them to the test. He has worn these feet since February and has put them to the test skiing, hiking and biking. Unfortunately, Ed fell 15 feet off a rock face of a hotel in Salt Lake City. The fall broke the three Singer socket attachments but it didnít damage the feet at all. This foot design is called the Luxon Max, and weíve taken four of them with us on this Everest expedition.

Meanwhile, Paul LaBarr and Jeremy Adelson, two engineers from the Seattle Orthopedic Group, put in long hours trying to determine how to put the heating elements in the mineral-oil-based rubber liners without affecting the properties of the rubber. After numerous phone calls and dozens of liners, we decided to take four non-heated 6mm, four heated 6mm and two heated 8mm liners with us. These liners will be heated with three D-cell Lithium thiol chloride batteries from Spectrum, which are not affected by the cold.

We started fitting Ed with test sockets in June. One might think that we would want to start the fitting process long before June since our Everest departure date was August 9. We waited until then because, when Ed starts training and eating poorly due to the added stress of putting together the expedition, he loses weight. So fitting him closer to the departure date was the wise choice.

Tod McCannell, my right hand man, is the prosthetic technician who fabricated several test sockets, then laminated and set up six new prostheses. They were laminated with strategically placed carbon fiber and Kevlar for maximum strength and minimum weight. Weíre taking three sets of prostheses with us to Everest. These sockets are of different sizes or volume to accommodate for the atrophy of up to 25 pounds of weight loss possible on the expedition. All in all, Edís leg bag weighs 54 pounds, not including the legs heís wearing or the batteries.

We have many people to thank for Edís legs ó Seattle Orthopedic Group, Inc., Springlite, the entire corporate staff at Hanger P&O, the media relations division as well as the entire staff of Hanger P&O Duluth and Hibbing, Minnesota. Everyone lent a hand and will continue to do so while Iím away on this expedition.

I work for the greatest orthotic and prosthetic company in the world. No other company would have sent me to Tibet to make sure Ed has no problems on the lower elevations of the mountain.

Thank you all very much.

Tom Halvorson
Edís prosthetist ó and a climber

The American-Canadian Expedition: The Team

Background on the Expedition

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