19 Dec

Behind the Design: Creating Elsie's Bespoke Cycling Device

Behind the Design: Creating Elsie's Bespoke Cycling Device Behind the Design: Creating Elsie's Bespoke Cycling Device Behind the Design: Creating Elsie's Bespoke Cycling Device Behind the Design: Creating Elsie's Bespoke Cycling Device
Elsie’s prosthetist Asad and the team at Seacroft Specialist Rehabilitation Centre had previously created a ball and socket device for controlling her old flat handlebars, however now she needed something that would allow her to swiftly move between two handlebars - both with differing angles to grasp onto.

The first fitting was an exciting day for everyone, with BBC Look North there to film the process, and also paratriathlete Stuart Meikle dropped by to answer some of Elsie’s questions and give her some tips on competitive cycling.  

This fitting involved trying on the initial design of the device – which had been shaped specifically to the width of the handlebars – and was at this stage made out of Pedilen foam to allow for minor adjustments. Elsie’s new bike was set up, Asad tested how the curved design of the device could move between hood and drop bar. As she tried it out, one of the specialist technicians Roger shaved foam fragments off the device, testing each time to see how the angle improved the ease of motion. This aspect of Roger’s job role has always been the most rewarding: “It’s always a pleasure to turn the dreams of patient and clinician into reality.”

Once Elsie was satisfied with the shape of the device, the team at Seacroft began work on creating the final prosthesis. A few short weeks later, it was time for the final fitting! To ensure the device was strong enough to tackle the muddy trails of Yorkshire, it had been made out of lightweight carbon fibre and reinforced with further carbon in sections which would endure the most pressure.

Elsie was eager to get straight on her bike, and was soon outside the clinic racing around trying out the movement between the hoods and drops.
With a slight rearrangement to the device and the custom hood attached to the bike, Elsie quickly felt confident enough to ride out of her saddle!

Asad focused on making sure that Elsie’s shoulder positioning was symmetrical, ensuring that both arms were evenly extended so even pressure was applied to the handlebars and any strain on Elsie was reduced. The most important thing for Elsie’s mum Emma was to make sure that the device would allow for the right grip when riding both up and down hill, particularly when going over small jumps.

Elsie immediately loved the new freedom this bespoke prosthesis gave her on her new bike, and was determined to master the technique of switching between the bars quickly whilst riding. Her prosthetist Asad was especially pleased with the results: “Personally, I would say it is always a great pleasure working with Elsie. She is so lovely and never gets bored no matter how many times I fit the arm, especially as these bespoke devices require a lot more attention. The custom cycling device we have created is unique because it provides Elsie with the option of going from hood bar to drop bar in no time, all the while still being able to control her bike. The device also enables Elsie to pull through whenever she is cycling uphill, and the lightweight nature provides Elsie with a very comfortable riding experience.”

And it doesn’t stop there – Elsie is now having a go at BMX biking, determined to master every discipline of the biking world! We look forward to following the rest of her journey with competitive cycling, and are excited to see the next bespoke device Asad, Roger, and the rest of the team are challenged with at Seacroft!

Follow the link below to take a look at BBC Look North’s feature on Elsie’s cycling journey, and the hard work of the Seacroft Specialist Rehabilitation Centre.

Elsie's Feature