Inventing the Dakota Disk, A New Cane Tip for Rough Terrain

Date Posted: 05/29/2017

Inventing the Dakota Disk

by Bill Holton, AccessWorld Correspondent

paul olson demonstrating Dakota Cane tip  

Caption: Paul Olson demonstrating Dakota Disk

Summer’s nearly upon us and with the warm weather comes trips to the beach, parks and other off-the-beaten paths where a standard travel white cane can get tripped up and so can you. Even gravel roads can be difficult to navigate especially if there are a lot of ruts and deep potholes. Traveling a rough gravel road was the problem North Dakota rehab specialist, Paul Olson was hoping to help one of his rural clients solve. He developed an innovative new cane tip, now produced by the folks at Ambutech, called the Dakota Disk.

“My client was having trouble navigating a rocky gravel road, and one night I took a Frisbee, flipped it upside down, and used some moldable plastic to attach it to a regular cane,” he says. The curved, plastic disk slid easily over the gravel and did a much better job of detecting potholes and other obstacles. “I used a full-size 9” Frisbee at first, but then I visited a pet store and bought a much smaller pet Frisbee,” he says. The folks at Ambutech refined Paul’s design and today you can buy a six-inch Dakota Disk that fits any “hook-style” cane for less than $10 in your choice of white or red.

Traveling with the Dakota Disk

Recently my Labradoodle pup, Millie, and I took a Dakota Disk for a test spin through a nearby park where there are some windy paths and a thick layer of leaves everywhere. My cane all-but glided over the leaves and I could easily follow a path worn down to the dirt. The curved disk rose up and over exposed roots, And I could feel every slope and dip in the ground as I walked at about twice my normal sidewalk speed. The Dakota Disk would also be excellent for beach goers, hikers, and blind individuals who frequently travel on gravel roads and pathways. Kids who visit gravel or mulch-covered playgrounds will also appreciate the Dakota Disk’s ability to accommodate rough terrain. Don’t put your disk away with your summer gear. I am told the Dakota Disk also works great in snow.

The one downside to the Dakota Disk is that it is distractingly loud on sidewalks or asphalt. You need to swap it out if you want to travel on both types of terrain which can take some time and effort. Hopefully, the company will eventually offer a version that will snap on and off a regular cane tip for occasional use.

To learn more, you can view a brief demo of the Dakota Disk from its inventor, Paul Olson on YouTube.

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