Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Adaptable prosthetics for amputees being developed in the UK

Date:
January 8, 2013
Source:
Bournemouth University
Summary:
Approximately one in every 1,000 people in the UK is an amputee. Many lose their limbs as the result of tragic accidents or due to active military combat and for some amputees losing a limb can feel like losing their freedom. Engineers are turning an academic concept into a practical product that could lessen the misery of thousands of amputees.

Bryce Dyer of Bournemouth University's Design Simulation Research Centre.
Credit: Image courtesy of Bournemouth University

Approximately one in every 1,000 people in the UK is an amputee. Many lose their limbs as the result of tragic accidents or due to active military combat and for some amputees losing a limb can feel like losing their freedom.

Engineers at Bournemouth University (BU) are turning an academic concept into a practical product that could lessen the misery of thousands of amputees.

They are creating a 'smart socket' -- a lower-limb prosthetic which can adjust itself to fit the changing shape of the limb stump it connects with. The design team say the fit will be so comfortable that amputee servicemen may even be able to return to active combat.

"Many prosthetic limbs remain unused simply because they can be so uncomfortable over time," says Bryce Dyer at BU's Design Simulation Research Centre, where a team of mechanical engineers and clinicians led by Professor Siamak Noroozi, are developing the technology.

Fitting a false limb is currently "a bit of a black art" says Dyer. Prosthetists traditionally require decades of experience to do their job successfully and are dependent upon the subjective feedback of patients, with no other method of measuring fit.

Additionally, current technology does not allow for changes in volume- patients' stumps may swell and contract. "It's like having your feet change size on a daily basis and expecting your shoes still to fit comfortably," says Dyer.

Calling on combined expertise, BU's School of Design, Engineering and Computing is using artificial intelligence to create a self-learning system that will measure interactions between socket and limb stump during the fitting and wear. "It is very much at a research and development stage," says Dyer.

Currently the team are also attempting to miniaturise the technology to make it light and portable as well as incorporating wireless technology.

BU scientists have teamed with commercial partners at prosthetics and orthotics supplier Chas A Blatchford & Sons, who work with the Ministry of Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre in Surrey, where injured soldiers are sent following service in Afghanistan and Iraq.

"One of the great things about this industrial partnership is that we will be able to get feedback from the very kind of people we are trying to help," says Dyer.

With better fitting false limbs, medical costs will fall, say BU designers; with prosthetists able to get it right first time and requiring less experience to be able to do their job properly. Being agile enough to return to active service is a huge bonus for the rising numbers of amputee soldiers. "It will get them back in the field rather than being retired early or restricted in what they can do," says Mr Dyer.

Understanding how elite sprinters perform with artificial limbs or "blades" and how different types of prostheses compare is central to another strand of Mr Dyer's research.

"Paralympic running world records are still being set on a near annual basis -- the sport hasn't settled down yet. I'm looking at how individuals should be grouped together or separated -- how to give the fairest possible race."

As well as informing future Paralympic Committees, the research will apply to disability in sport in general. Should someone who's lost both limbs compete against a runner missing just one limb, for example? And how should technology be categorised, when variations in quality of false limbs may create substantial differences among international athletes?

"Some 30 years ago, it was all about enabling disabled people to take part in sport," says Dyer. "But now the quality of performances and the sums of money involved are so great, there's much more at stake. We don't want to restrict technology but we need to find a way to measure it."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Bournemouth University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Bournemouth University. "Adaptable prosthetics for amputees being developed in the UK." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 January 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130108111312.htm>.
Bournemouth University. (2013, January 8). Adaptable prosthetics for amputees being developed in the UK. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130108111312.htm
Bournemouth University. "Adaptable prosthetics for amputees being developed in the UK." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130108111312.htm (accessed September 17, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

President To Send 3,000 Military Personnel To Fight Ebola

President To Send 3,000 Military Personnel To Fight Ebola

Newsy (Sep. 16, 2014) President Obama is expected to send 3,000 troops to West Africa as part of the effort to contain Ebola's spread. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama Orders Military Response to Ebola

Obama Orders Military Response to Ebola

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) Calling the Ebola outbreak in West Africa a potential threat to global security, President Barack Obama is ordering 3,000 U.S. military personnel to the stricken region amid worries that the outbreak is spiraling out of control. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
UN: 20,000 Could Be Infected With Ebola by Year End

UN: 20,000 Could Be Infected With Ebola by Year End

AFP (Sep. 16, 2014) Nearly $1.0 billion dollars is needed to fight the Ebola outbreak raging in west Africa, the United Nations say, warning that 20,000 could be infected by year end. Duration: 00:40 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama: Ebola Outbreak Threat to Global Security

Obama: Ebola Outbreak Threat to Global Security

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) President Obama is ordering U.S. military personnel to West Africa to deal with the Ebola outbreak, which is he calls a potential threat to global security. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

    Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile: iPhone Android Web
    Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins