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Electronic Ankle - like getting a new leg

Posted Jul 17 2013 3:44am
Following the first ever fitting of the revolutionary BiOM ankle system in Europe last year, Pace Rehabilitation has continued to provide seven of its leg amputee patients with clinical trials of the sophisticated electronic device. Initial patient feedback has been very positive, including one below the knee amputee who commented, It’s like having my leg back!”

Ankle Function

The electronic ankle provides unique function, by providing the user with a powered assistance as they walk and when negotiating stairs.

Claims from the American manufacturer (iWalk) that the device normalises gait characteristics and reduces metabolic energy requirements were underpinned by other Pace patient comments, included, “I’m walking faster and further with less effort" and "The world feels flat with this foot!”

However, as Prosthetist/Orthotist Toby Carlsson points out, “Whilst our patient feedback has been very positive, it is subjective.”  He continues, “The function that the BiOM is claimed to restore comes at a significant financial cost. We are obtaining some objective data on how it performs, before we commit to prescribing and recommending it.”

So, in addition to recognised patient questionnaires and walk tests, Pace arranged for its latest four BiOM trial users to participate in independent gait laboratory trials, at the University of Salford which specialises in measuring human movement. Later this month, the quartet will return to the Salford laboratory wearing their ‘everyday’ prosthesisAn artificial device attached to the body., to provide the comparative data for analysis. The clinicians and patients await the outcomes with interest.

In the meantime, Prosthetist/Orthotist Jamie Gillespie summarised, “Its fair to say that in its current guise, the BiOM is quite bulky, noisy and battery life necessitates changing it during the day. However, it will only improve”.

Jamie added, “Having tried the device briefly myself, the improved function it provides is significant compared to anything I’ve tried before and has the potential to hugely benefit some lower limb amputees”.

Pace will analyse the gait lab reports and continue to work with the American team.  Further trials are planned later this year.

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