This cost effective prosthetic foot is enabling amputees to walk naturally
There are some amazing options available today in prosthetic limb technology, but many of them are expensive. This puts them way out of reach for many amputees.
A low cost prosthetic foot could prove to be a game changer. Designed by engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), in the United States, the foot can be customized for each person and imitates an able-bodied walk. The foot, the developers claim, is designed to walk in the way each person desires.
The team behind this exciting innovation started working on this in 2012. They were approached by Jaipur Foot, an Indian organization that makes artificial limbs. For over 40 years, Jaipur Foot has been designing a foot that is study but also heavy and not of the same standard as the internal structure is made by hand. This creates differences in product quality.
The MIT team was asked to design a more lightweight foot that could be produced in large numbers at a low cost.
Many developers of prosthetic feet focus on imitating the movements of able-bodied feet and ankles. This does not mean very much to someone who can’t even feel what the prosthetic foot does.
So, the team focused on designing a prosthetic foot that would produce lower-leg motions similar to those of an able-bodied walker. This helps to increase the amputee’s ability to walk.
They developed a mathematical model that describes the stiffness, possible range of motion, and shape of a simple, prosthetic foot.
After successful trials in India, the team has partnered with Vibram, an Italian company that manufactures hiking boots and running shoes that look like feet.
The team aims to create a prosthetic foot that offers amputees an able-bodied walking performance at a low cost.