For Gary Walters, the entrepreneurial brainstorm came while mowing his lawn on a hot San Antonio day. An Iraq war veteran, Walters lost his right leg below the knee in a bomb blast eight years ago, and he has suffered from excessive heat and sweating where his prosthesis is joined to his leg, a common problem for amputees. “It gets close to 100 degrees in there,” he says. “It’s just like having your hand under water all day. Your skin starts to break down, you get friction blisters, heat rash, open sores.”
Walters says that the heat builds up even when he’s sitting still indoors. He would constantly ask his doctors and prosthetic manufacturers: “Why hasn’t anyone come up with a fix for this?”
This past winter, his bubbling frustration dovetailed along with an assignment in his engineering design course at the University of Texas at San Antonio. The result is what he calls the Aquilonix Prosthetic Cooling System, a ceramic plate that uses battery-powered thermoelectric components to pull the heat from inside the socket of the prosthesis and eject it outside the limb. The device
is embedded into the socket and has an on/off switch.