Spearheading this ‘right first-time approach is graduate entrepreneur Dr Joshua Steer, whose company, Radii Devices, was spun out of the Bioengineering Sciences Research Group at Southampton University in April 2019 and was part of the University’s Future World’s stand at CES 2020.
NHS England’s Prosthetics Patient Survey Report 2018 found socket fit to be one of the most common complaints among prosthetic users. Furthermore, an average of nine fitting sessions are required to achieve a comfortable fit.
Dr Steer, a Royal Academy of Engineering Enterprise Hub fellow, told The Engineer via email that there are two packages of analysis which are used to provide information to clinicians who design the prosthetic limb.
The first package captures information from a laser scan of the limb to model how the limb changes over time, the socket design at each visit, and the resultant comfort score.
“We can then aggregate and compare this data across the population to determine which sockets are suitable for particular individuals and provide this information back to the clinic,” Steer said. “Our second package of real-time pressure prediction requires an MRI scan. This enables us to capture shape of the bones and soft tissues to generate the computational model required to predict the pressures at the interface between the limb and the socket.”
Steer added that Radii Devices is using the same simulation technology that has been used successfully across engineering disciplines to streamline design processes and reduce the number of protypes which need to be manufactured and tested.
“Much as an engineer will use computational models in tandem with their expertise to arrive at the final design, our aim is to make this technology accessible and available to clinicians at the point of care,” he said.
Radii Devices’ solution is initially focussed on prosthetics for lower limb amputees, but Steer said the technology can be applied to any external medical device which applies pressure to the skin such ankle-foot orthoses, wheelchair seating, and footwear.
“Designing devices to fit the complex geometry of the human body is a real challenge, and we want our tools to be used to improve quality of fit across all these devices,” he said.
Clinical pilots are scheduled for early 2020.