An engineering student from Radlett is helping develop a prosthetic fin for a mother who is learning to scuba dive after losing her leg.
Dhiran Patel, 23, who is from Radlett, is part of a group from Brunel University who are attempting to develop a prosthetic limb.
Sue Wright, 53, lost her leg when she was hit by a van near her home six years ago. She decided she wanted to learn to scuba dive and enlisted the help of Eastcote Sub-Aqua Club instructor Nigel Ealand - who realised there was nothing on the market to help Mrs Wright in her quest to become a fully qualified ocean diver.
Mechanical engineer Mr Patel is working with four others from the university working on the design challenge.
He said: "There are a number of real problems. Trapped air within the prosthetic limb would react under water pressure and may affect how the limb behaves.
"Then, due to the fact Sue’s leg was amputated above the knee, there is a lot of soft tissue that would also be affected by pressure which could be a real issue.
"Most prosthetic limbs attach by suction but that may not work underwater and under pressure so I’m looking at ways to overcome this problem. Ideally I need to come up with a socket that can transfer from a finning to a walking limb and that isn’t proving easy."
Sue, a former office manager, said she is delighted with the efforts of the Brunel students and is looking forward to seeing the results of their research.
She said: "They really are wonderful young people and I’m so pleased to have had the opportunity to work with them. It isn’t all about me, I hope other less able-bodied people see that you can do things and you don’t have to give up."
Nigel Ealand, who has been teaching people to dive for more than a decade, said he has really enjoyed helping Sue to learn to dive.
He said: "I did lots of internet searches but couldn’t find any commercially produced prosthetic limbs that would do the job. I decided to approach Brunel University to see if they could help.
"I have, with Sue, met the students and they have videoed her swimming underwater and discussed ideas to deal with concerns over pressure, the lack of electronics and the fact the prosthetic leg needs to work without hindering any movement of Sue’s natural leg.
"We are now just waiting to see what the prototype will look like and how it will work. Sue and I have been really impressed with the students and the work they are doing."