Plastics and prosthetics helped John Register become a world class paralympian athlete. Watch the video or read the transcript below to learn how.
Video Transcript: John Register Talking about Plastics and Amputees
Hi! My name is John Register, two-time Paralympic athlete. When I was an athlete at the University of Arkansas, I became a four-time all-American. I once did that on the long jump, and then on some mile relay teams. I was on my way to making the Olympic games. I twice went to the Olympic trials, once in 1998 as a hurdler, and once in 1992 as a 400-meter hurdler.
I almost made it. I was almost there. Until one day a crippling injury happened. I went across a hurdle, came down wrong, landed wrong, broke my leg, severed the artery behind my kneecap, and wound up five days later and seven operations later becoming an amputee.
I thought that everything had ended for me, and that my life was now over. But through some great support networks, through my family and friends, and especially through some incredible advancements in plastics technology, really got me out of my funk and back into life again.
It was amazing, these plastics technology. I could actually get up, have an artificial leg made for running, and I wound up making the Paralympic games in 2000, capturing the silver medal in the long jump and becoming the only American that’s still standing today that’s jumped over 17 and a half feet without a leg or a knee.
How did I do it with the flexible plastics? Well, take a look at this phenomenal running leg right here. The flexible plastics right here, that’s like, if you have a tennis shoe on and it doesn’t fit right, if the leg doesn’t fit right for an amputee, you’re just having a bad leg day. You have the nice stars and stripes and the colors right there, that holds my leg in form and so I’m not expanding or contracting inside the socket. It’s actually allowing me to do what I do better.
Then you have the components here. This cylinder becomes my kneecap. That knee is what makes an above-the-knee different from a below-the-knee. We don’t have any knees, so we have to have an artificial knee that’s made for us. It’s filled with hydraulic fuel and springs.
This part is connected to the third and final part, which I think the other greatest part is, these advancements in technologies reaches to the carbon fibers of feet. And we can make those feet as stiff or soft as possible. So if you’re running real fast, or you just want to run a nice slow jog for a mile. And this foot right here allows me to run leg over leg down the track through great distances and American records, just like some of the athletes that we’d see at the Paralympic games.
So for me, all these things were possible because of a simple thing in plastics. So plastics did make it possible to make my dreams come true.