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The Journal News:

George Stanec, at age 80, doesn’t use a cane, but if he ever needs one, he’ll be ready.

A retired mechanical engineer, Stanec has invented a high-tech walking cane that combines aerospace materials and finely carved wood. The result is a sturdy yet lightweight cane with artistic flair.

Stanec and his wife, Anna, 71, have started a Web business called Tiagra Canes to market his invention.

The cane looks and behaves nothing like traditional wooden or utilitarian aluminum canes – and that’s the point.

“People end up with our cane because they tried every cane on the market, and they aren’t happy with it,” Anna said.

The unique features start at the base, an oversized foam cylinder made from a dense but lightweight material that’s used as the sealant in rockets. The 2 1/4 -inch-wide base acts as a shock absorber and stabilizer. It is also skid-proof on rain-slicked sidewalks.

The handle, though, is carved from fine woods like walnut, cherry, ash or maple. Stanec uses wood partly because it can be customized to individual hands and partly because plastic grips can be cold and sweaty, causing strain on the user. “George felt very strongly that you need the touch of nature,” Anna said.

A titanium connector joins the handle and shaft. Measured in millimeters, the connector allows the fingers to tightly grip the cane.

The cane’s center of gravity is closer to the ground than other canes. “The cane is balanced like a fine golf club,” George said.

The balance means it takes less energy to swing the cane while walking. The canes are also easy to carry because they weigh just 8 to 10 ounces.

Anna said she hopes George’s invention will help other older people live functional lives. “I never realized before how many people need canes,” she said. “But now that I talk to people I realize it’s almost like glasses.”

Photo by Mike Roy

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Originally posted by Rich Whittle on July 16, 2007 in Inventions.

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