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Sportswear Enters Into the Disability Market

February 28, 2012  |  AAPD Power Grid Blog Team

by Jenna Lenskold, AAPD Communications Intern


Sportswear has always been fashion forward thanks to brands such as Nike. Up until now, the sporting goods created by these companies had never targeted athletes with disabilities. Recently, Nike has branched into that market to create a product for athletes with prosthetic legs. This opens an entirely new door for companies to create other products for athletes with disabilities.

While it may seem like Nike is simply creating a new marketing plan, the sportswear they have created is quite necessary for athletes that have prosthetic legs. A prosthetic leg allows an athlete to be able to switch the bottom blade depending on whether he/she is sprinting, walking, or running. Each blade is created to make the movement seem as natural as possible. With advances in technology, prosthetic limbs allow people to be able to do almost anything they could do with a flesh limb.

Nike has created a sole that clips on to the bottom of the carbon-fiber running blade of the prosthetic leg. While this seems like a simple product, no sportswear company had created it before. Previously, the athletes would have to either cut off the rubber soles from the bottom of sneakers or use parts of old automobile tires. They would then glue them onto the bottom of the blade. Learning about how these athletes had to improvise makes it very surprising that no company had created a sole specifically for prosthetic legs sooner.

Nike teamed up with Sarah Reinertsen, a record-breaking sprinter from California, to design this product. Reinertsen was born with a bone-growth disorder and she had her leg amputated at the age of seven. This did not stop her from training and competing, but she did recognize the need for a product like the one that Nike created. Reinertsen thinks that the market of sportswear for people with disabilities is one that will expand in years to come. The Paralympics, which are occurring this summer, will only bring more attention to it.

As medical advances continue, people will be able to continue leading fun and active lifestyles even if they use a prosthetic limb. It is important for companies like Nike to realize that these athletes will also want fashionable, useful products for exercising.  

To read more on this issue, click here.

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