the need

Many people with mobility limitations have been unable to participate in water sports such as surfing due to a lack of recreation technologies that can accommodate their needs.

adaptive wave-ski

making water sports accessible

making water sports accessible

the solution

A new technology developed for surfing has been adapted for people with mobility limitations. Those with lower extremity limitations and good arm strength can now surf and kayak with a fiberglass wave-ski.

developing a prototype

As a student project advisor, Peter Axelson worked with Alex Dinello of the University of Virginia to develop the first adaptive wave-ski prototype. With the help of wave-ski designer Merv Larson, they created a slightly longer and wider model that would provide additional stability. A custom-molded orthotic seating system inserted into the wave-ski deck allows a user to sit in the board and eliminates the need to cling to its surface. A padded aluminum knee support with a quick release Velcro strap secures the rider’s legs aboard the ski. A four-point strap harness supports the rider’s torso and attaches to the ski using a single release mechanism. The rider uses a kayak paddle to propel, steer, and balance the lightweight craft.

current status

The adaptive wave-ski prototype is being evaluated for safety and performance.


This was a student project sponsored and funded by the University of Virginia Rehabilitation Engineering Center, and Alex Dinello, a graduate of the University of Virginia Engineering program and student intern at Beneficial Designs, Inc.