Think there’s no good surf in New England? Think you need to be able-bodied to balance on a surfboard and ride crashing waves into the shore? Think again!
For the past 3 years, AmpSurf, an adaptive surfing clinic based in Southern California, has helped amputees break through the barrier of riding the waves at York Beach in southern Maine. Participants of all ages have enjoyed the incredible experience of balancing on a surfboard, either on one leg or with their prosthesis, and riding the swells a few hundred feet off-shore.
Next Step Bionics & Prosthetics’ Ian Gray, a prosthetist at our Newton MA location, has paved the way to expand these clinics into New England, and regularly teaches and practices surfing at the AmpSurf clinics scheduled each summer.
According to Ian, “surfing has been called the sport of kings from ancient Hawaii, and you can’t help but feel like a king or queen when you ride a wave. The ocean has the ability to heal in so many ways. The greatest part of adaptive surfing is we can adapt to any disability and get everyone in the water”. The program allows those who are brand new to the sport to learn basic techniques and adapt themselves to riding the surf; while more advanced surfers can challenge themselves to reaching new heights and improving their techniques.
For amputees, there are several options to consider when deciding whether to surf on a prosthetic limb or one leg:
Surfing with a prosthetic limb
- Easier to balance and maneuver on waves
- Easier to lean left or right to direct the surfboard
- Water may damage mechanical components or hardware if the prosthesis is not waterproof.
- If the prosthesis were to come loose in the water, it could be lost in the waves.
Surfing on one leg
- No need to worry about damaging or losing your prosthesis
- Balancing improves core strength and endurance, thereby improving your overall physical health.
- More difficult to balance and maneuver on waves
- More difficult to lean left or right to direct the surfboard
Recently, a new advancement in prosthetics, the X3 Waterproof Prosthesis, has allowed amputees the full ability to swim, surf, and enjoy the water while wearing their prosthesis, with no worries of damaging the hardware or components. Learn more about this waterproof prosthesis here.