LEG / Leg Prosthesis Race

NWU Eagles

South AfricaSouth Africa

About the Team

Passion fuels the NWU Eagles, a dedicated team poised to revolutionise lives through groundbreaking research. Their mission is to create access to cutting-edge rehabilitation and prosthetic technologies across Africa, empowering individuals to thrive in their communities. With a commitment to social impact, they embark on a journey, aiming to change lives, one prosthetic at a time.

Hailing from the Faculty of Engineering and the Centre for Human Health and Performance (CHHP) at the North-West University (NWU), our multidisciplinary squad is set to make its debut at CYBATHLON 2024, competing in the prestigious Leg Prosthesis Race.

At the helm is Prof André Grobler, Associate Professor in the School of Electrical, Electronic, and Computer Engineering, his leadership merges passion, research, and technology. Prof Grobler ensures the team remains steadfast in its pursuit to change the world for the better. His unwavering resolve to complete commitments and show up in hard times take the team forward from stride to stride.

Dr Jan-Hendrik Kruger, Postgraduate Program Manager in the School of Mechanical Engineering, lends his expertise to the mechanical intricacies of the Leg Prosthesis. Leading numerous studies in assistive devices, Dr Kruger is eager to expand our research horizons, driven by a profound commitment to advancing human potential.

Enter Prof Mark Kramer, Associate Professor at the Centre for Health and Human Performance, whose focus on exercise physiology and biomechanics enriches our understanding of human movement. With a keen eye on end-user experience, Prof Kramer ensures our devices optimise functionality, fostering greater independence for their users.

Ian Thomson is at the forefront of our team, serving as both pilot and lead technical supervisor. Knowing firsthand the daily challenges faced by amputees, Ian spearheads innovative initiatives to enhance existing technologies, guided by an unwavering determination to make a difference.

Meet Mr. JP van Deventer, the mastermind behind our electronic innovations and our astute Business Development representative. Pursuing an MBA, JP envisions a cost-effective model to uplift disadvantaged communities across Africa, forging strategic alliances with global stakeholders to benchmark the latest technologies.

Rounding out our mechanical expertise is Mr Henry van Niekerk, on the cusp of completing his master's degree and poised to embark on a PhD journey under the mentorship of Prof Attie Jonker. With a focus on assistive devices, Henry is eager to contribute to our ongoing quest to change the world for the better.

A special mention to all the students who give research support and encouragement in this endeavour. Charl le Roux, Janco Malan, Erich Hayes, Markus de Wet, and Shanya Buys, whose dedication and long hours help the team to thrive.

Driven by determination and focus, the NWU Eagles epitomize the spirit of resilience and gratitude. We are honoured to be part of this groundbreaking initiative, extending our heartfelt appreciation to NWU for this invaluable opportunity. Together, we soar towards a future where technology and compassion converge to create a world beyond limits.

About the Pilot

Ian Thomson, the driving force behind the NWU Eagles Team, is a 29-year-old pioneer with a unilateral above-knee amputation. Ian's journey began at 16 when a motorcycle accident changed his life forever. Yet, thanks to modern prosthetic technology, Ian defied limitations and embraced an active lifestyle.

Not content with merely adapting to his circumstances, Ian assumed the mantle of head technical lead and designer on our project. His passion and unwavering determination serve as catalysts for our success, driving innovation and pushing boundaries in the African technology market.

Ian's vision extends far beyond personal triumph; he envisions a future where prosthetics are seamlessly integrated into users' lives, tailored to their unique needs. Drawing from his own experiences, he understands the critical importance of user-centred design, sparing no effort to ensure optimal comfort and functionality.

Ian's leadership is characterized by humility and inspiration, earning him the admiration of teammates and peers alike. His relentless pursuit of a better prosthetic landscape in Africa ignites our collective ambition, propelling us toward our shared goal with unparalleled fervour.

In Ian Thomson, we find not just a pilot, but a visionary whose resilience and determination illuminate the path to a brighter, more inclusive future. We join him in harnessing the power of technology and compassion to transform lives, one prosthetic innovation at a time.

About the Device

Introducing Talon by NWU Eagles, a revolutionary leap forward in affordable prosthetic technology, meticulously designed with the unique needs of the African continent at heart. Developed by a dedicated team of innovators at North-West University, Potchefstroom, Talon embodies our commitment to accessibility, reliability, and practicality in mobility solutions.

At NWU Eagles, we understand the diverse challenges faced by individuals in need of assistive devices across Africa. Engineered to withstand the varying terrains and climates of Africa, Talon offers unparalleled durability without compromising comfort. Its lightweight design ensures ease of use, enabling wearers to navigate their day-to-day activities with newfound freedom.

Affordability is at the core of our mission. We believe that quality healthcare solutions should not be a privilege, but a right accessible to all. Talon ensures that individuals and communities, even in the most resource-limited settings, can afford a state-of-the-art prosthetic leg. This commitment to affordability does not mean a compromise on quality. Talon is built with high-grade materials that are both cost-effective and long-lasting, ensuring that users receive the best possible value.

Maintenance of prosthetic limbs can often be a daunting task, especially in areas with limited access to specialised services. Talon addresses this challenge head-on with its innovative, easily maintainable design. We've simplified the maintenance process, making it possible for users or local healthcare providers to perform most upkeep tasks with minimal tools and training.

The NWU Eagles team has collaborated closely with local communities, healthcare professionals, and users throughout the design process, ensuring that Talon meets the real-world needs of its wearers. This collaborative approach has enabled us to tailor Talon specifically to the unique environmental, cultural, and practical requirements of the African continent.

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