Prosthetist confident of Garvey’s chances at Rio Paralympics


Prostheist Andrew Vearing -Orthotic Prosthetic Solutions.
Prostheist Andrew Vearing -Orthotic Prosthetic Solutions.

WEMBLEY DOWNS prosthetist Andrew Vearing is putting Trigg triathlete Brant Garvey on the right track to the Rio Paralympics after months fine-tuning his prostheses.

Mr Vearing, a former national pole-vaulter, said his meeting with Garvey was “fortuitous” with the pair working together on his three $20,000 prosthetic attachments, one for each leg of the race.

“It worked really well because of my athletics background, I had a good understanding what he wanted,” he said.

MORE: Brant Garvey qualifies for Rio Paralympics.

“(Brant) did one competition in Chicago when it was really hot and he had lost a bit of weight and he flipped his leg over the bike and it nearly flew off.

“So the size of the socket is really important, we can’t have it too tight because we won’t be able to get it on fast enough but if it’s too loose then it can come off.

“We came up with a method where the cleat is directly attached to the prosthetic foot and we’ve cut a hole in the cover so he can clip straight in the pedal.”

Mr Vearing will accompany Garvey and the Australian Paralympic Team to Rio in September in a support role.

“There can be unforseen things that happen but he has a spare knee joint and spare foot for running but it’s unlikely we will need to be making any more changes this close to the event,” he said.

“The prosthetic fit is really important you can have all the technology in the world but the way the socket works with the human body is critical.

“He’ll have a little bag of Allen keys with him just in case but we’ll be doing everything to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

Mr Vearing said he was looking forward to Rio and watching Garvey compete.

“Learning to use a prosthetic is hard work, it really requires a lot of effort to learn how to run because it isn’t like our muscles because it bounces back,” he said.

“Think of it as a pogo stick – there is a lot of force there.

“Brant has worked really hard with his techniques and his times have really reflected that.”

Based at a Leederville clinic, Mr Vearing said he had wanted to get into the prosthetics industry since the age of 10 when his mother had to have a finger removed due to a benign tumour.

“I went in and saw the department where they were fitting an orthoses and they made silicon noses, ears and eyes and I was fascinated,” he said.

“I always loved making things and had an interest in engineering but also loved art and I guess I thought outside of the box.”

Mr Vearing said he was constantly surprised and challenged by his profession.

“It’s extremely rewarding, I love going to work everyday, I’m constantly problem solving because it’s such an individual process,” he said.

“It’s a privilege to be honest to work with some of the individuals because they are the ones to drive that process, you really can make a difference to people’s lives.

“I’ve got one gentleman at the moment who wants to go and ski a 60 degree slope for his 60th birthday and he’s an above knee amputee, there would be plenty of people who wouldn’t want to do that with two legs.”