New generation of MPKs offers key benefits for amputees

LAS VEGAS — There is a new generation of microprocessor-controlled knees that offer key benefits in the daily lives of transtibital amputees, according to a speaker at the American Orthotic & Prosthetic Association National Assembly.

John Ross

“Technology has moved very fast in the last 25 years,” John Ross, NCTEPO. “What amputees expect to be able to do has greatly changed over those years. This technology gives a high level of stability … so the amputee can perform more tasks easily without having to think.”

Ross, who is a principal prosthetist and commercial manager at Chas A. Blatchford & Sons Ltd., introduced the Orion 2, a novel microprocessor-controlled stance and swing phase knee.

The device contains only one battery pack, but offers dramatic increases in battery life with its efficient power economy system, Ross said. The microprocessor, incorporated within the knee, includes smart calibration and is self-programmable with or without an external computer.

The knee does not use spring assist. This reduces swing initiation and effort, allowing more natural knee flexion at low walking speeds. The pneumatic system within the device further reduces energy expenditure during swing control at variable cadences.

Ross said that a total of 10 clinical research studies from 1992 to 2006 on pneumatic swing phase control devices show a reduction of energy up to 25%, as well as increased comfort and faster walking speeds for amputees. Similar research from 2010 to 2014 on ground compliance showed reduction in the physiological cost walking by up to 18%, he said.

Ross said with the Orion 2, users have constant support over a larger range of knee flexion and security on varying terrain, improving overall user experience. The amount of increased support can be set to individual preference. — by Shawn M. Carter

For more information:

Ross. Prosthetic symposium: Microprocessor controlled knees symposium. Presented at: American Orthotic & Prosthetic Association National Assembly; Sep. 4-7, 2014; Las Vegas.

Disclosure: Ross has no relevant financial disclosures.

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