US Paralympian Mike Schultz hopes radical prosthetics empower others

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(CNN) — He’s a hardcore action sportsman who refuses to be hampered by the loss of his left leg, but “Monster” Mike Schultz is getting a bigger rush by pioneering prosthetic limbs for the US Paralympic team.

Schultz, a professional motocross rider and X Games veteran, suffered his injury when he was flung from his snowmobile during a snocross race in 2008.

Complications after the accident led to the decision to amputate above the knee.

For most, that would be career-ending and life-changing. Schultz was determined it would be neither.

Seven months later, after learning how to walk again, he was back competing in adaptive motocross at the X Games — this time with a prosthetic leg he’d designed and manufactured himself. He won silver.

Fast forward nine years, and he’s about to compete in the red, white and blue of Team USA in snowboarding at the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Paralympics.

But while winning gold is the aim, he is more inspired by seeing his radical prosthetics empower teammates, rivals and hundreds of other amputees to stay active.

“What really goes deep is seeing the reaction on people’s faces when I help them do something they thought was out of reach,” Schulz told CNN Sport.

“Helping them get back into an activity they thought was lost because of the equipment I’ve developed — that’s way more powerful and rewarding for me.”

READ: The memorable moments, images and stars of the Rio Paralympics

Helping soldiers, athletes, amputees

Schultz learned about prosthetic design during his recovery and used his experience as a motocross rider to incorporate a lightweight, mountain bike-style shock absorber with patented linkage system into the knee.

He realized his design could benefit the wider adaptive community, so he founded BioDapt in 2010 to develop the technology, known as the “Moto Knee.”

The same year he became the first athlete to win adaptive gold in both the X Games and Winter X Games.

In 2013, the company added the “Versa Foot,” which offers the user far more flexibility and stability than a standard prosthetic.

Now more than 100 wounded soldiers, extreme athletes and amputees are using Schultz’s designs to maintain an active lifestyle.

In Pyeongchang, Schultz will carry the USA flag at the opening ceremony and compete in the snowboard cross and banked slalom, in which he won a silver medal at the 2017 World Championships.

Despite all of his setbacks, Schulz insists he is at the “top of his game.”

“I look at life as a challenge,” he says. “I don’t ever want to give up.”

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