In 2008, 38-year-old ‘Monster’ Mike Schultz from St. Cloud, MN suffered a knee injury during a snowmobile competition, resulting in the amputation of his left leg above the knee. The prosthesis Schultz received after his accident didn’t perform as he needed for competitive, rigorous sports. Using his knowledge and experience of fabrication and tuning suspension on race equipment, Schultz set out to create his own durable and versatile mechanical prosthesis.
Within seven months, Schultz was again competing on the national stage at the ESPN X Games, receiving a silver medal in adaptive motocross. After competing in his first adaptive sporting event, he soon recognized that many other amputees could benefit from the equipment he was working on. In 2010, he founded BioDapt, a company that designs, manufactures, and distributes high performance lower limb prosthetic components used for action sports and activities with similar physical demands.
Schultz developed the Moto Knee and Versa Foot2 system, improvements from previous versions Schultz was using. Several of the components are redesigned to be more durable, while others are new designs that allow Schultz to have a more natural range of motion between his knee and foot. The system also gives more flex range with both his ankle and knee and allows for another dimension of alignment of the entire prosthesis.
Schultz turned to Protolabs to produce parts for his enhanced prosthesis in lightweight 6061 aluminum using Protolabs’ CNC machining service. Aluminum was chosen due to its lightweight yet durable nature for competition.
“My goal is to manufacture the highest quality and highly versatile components that allow amputees to participate in sports and activities,” said Schultz. “Being the athlete that depends on this equipment, it is key to have quick and reliable turnaround on quality parts, whether they be prototype parts so we can continue to test and improve our designs, or on-demand production parts ready for competition. Protolabs delivers on our demands every time.”
“Protolabs is proud to support ‘Monster’ Mike in creating the next generation of action sports prosthesis,” said Brian Peters, Chief Marketing Officer of Protolabs. “This collaboration is truly special, it’s a testament to the advanced capabilities of digital manufacturing and what it can do to not only accelerate production, but also improve lives of those who are faced with adversity. This is exactly the type of impact that we aim to have through our manufacturing grants and partnerships programs.”
“I’m excited to team up with Protolabs this year as I go into the competition at X Games Aspen,” said Schultz. “Anyone involved with elite level competition knows the importance of innovation, progression and adapting to challenges on the fly, and this season Protolabs has been helping me to do just that, right up to the weeks or even days before the competition.”
Schultz is one of eight athletes to compete in Adaptive Snow BikeCross at this year’s X Games, which debuted its first official adaptive motorsport competition—motocross—in 2009 to further support inclusion and progression in athletics. Schultz is a nine-time X Games gold medalist and won a gold and silver medal for Team USA in snowboarding at the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games.