Department of Veterans Affairs researchers have improved upon the design of prosthetic ankles with a new ankle-foot prosthetic (AFP) that can adapt its function for walking on sloped surfaces, providing stability and confidence. Patent licenses for the innovative design are available to businesses who would manufacture and sell the device. Contact TechLink for more information on this business opportunity.
Many prosthetic ankles are spring-like structures that operate on one resting angle. These prosthetics may become unstable on sloped surfaces.
The AFP includes a foot plate attached to an ankle frame, a yoke pivotally connected to the ankle frame and including a member for attaching to a leg and a damper connected to the yoke and to the ankle frame.
The damper includes a microcontroller mechanism for switching the damper between low and high settings.
The compression damping is set to a very low level and is unchanged throughout the walking gait cycle.
The extension damping for walking is set to a very high level at the beginning of the gait cycle and changes to low-level damping at the time of toe-off, which must be sensed using one or more sensors of force, acceleration, or other properties.
The extension damping can remain at a low level of damping for at least the time needed to return the ankle to a neutral or dorsiflexed position for swing phase and at most the time to the next foot flat event of the prosthesis.
For standing, both compression and extension damping levels can be controlled to be very high, providing a flatter effective shape and increasing the stability of the prosthesis user.
- Provides a natural, comfortable gait
- Adapts to different sloped surfaces on each step
- Simple design and construction with fewer components and little maintenance
- Compact and durable
- Resists or prevents undesirable backward swing leading to imbalance or injury
- Quieter, lightweight, and less clumsy
- Easily switches into a stable mode for standing or swaying
- Businesses can productize the invention by licensing US patents 8,480,760; 8,696,764; 8,764,850; 9,549,827; 10,105,243; US applications 20170156894; 20170071761; and multiple international applications available for license
- License fees paid to the VA are negotiable
- TechLink navigates companies through licensing at no cost
- Potential for collaboration with VA researchers on further development of this technology