How did you come to experience disability?
Kendra: I was born with fibular hemimelia and had my right foot amputated when I was two years old. I struggled with ill-fitting prosthetics, low confidence, and bullying through my earlier years. Playing sports was my outlet because it allowed me to feel “normal” and “able.
That seems really tough. How have bionics shaped your life?
Kendra: I spent 35 years of my life with basic prosthetics. I never knew how much that held me back until I got my first running blade two years ago. The responsiveness of the foot has reversed my arthritis and opened up so many new opportunities. Recently I started competing in Paratriathlon and have risen to #7 worldwide. I also have a cycling-specific prosthesis and a swimming leg. These devices are necessary to be able to compete against the top athletes in the world.
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“I like the look of realistic prosthetics, but they’re heavy and need to be more responsive.”
What do you hope for the future of bionics? What improvements would you like to see?
Kendra: I would love to see a marriage between form & function. My everyday prosthesis has an active foot, but it doesn’t allow me to wear specific shoes. I like the look of realistic prosthetics, but they’re heavy and need to be more responsive. Running blades could still improve. I read a study that said blades get a 94% energy return, but a sound foot would give off more than double that amount. I would love to see a day when running or walking in my prosthesis felt precisely like how it does for my sound side, which would eliminate imbalances and overcompensation issues.