Droylsden teenager Scott Wall has been fitted with a £12,500 bionic foot made by Icelandic company Ossur after he had part of his left leg amputated following a collision with a car.
The replacement foot uses artificial intelligence to mimic a human one, employing a miniature computer and sensors to learn and imitate the way Wall walks. It also learns how a particular movement may signal he is going to change pace, climb or run.
Ossur’s Proprio foot claims physiological benefits for transtibial amputees with a wide automated range of ankle flexion using the compay’s proprietary Flex-Foot dynamics to mimic the human foot.
Ossur says the Proprio foot thinks for itself, responding to changing terrain and transforming the approach to stairs and slopes, as well as level-ground walking. It angles itself appropriately, helping amputees to sit and stand up easily and more naturally. The foot also has a calibrated alignment control feature. The effect is a feeling of improved proprioception with a more balanced, symmetric and confident gait with reduced wear and tear on the back, hips and knees.
The foot uses sensor technology and artificial intelligence to identify sloping gradients and the ascent or descent of stairs after the first step, and instructs the ankle to flex appropriately. Users can place the foot fully on a step when climbing or descending stairs and it will automatically adapt its ankle position to enable the next step.
This active ankle motion also allows users to tuck both feet back behind their knees when getting up from a chair or sitting down. It also points the ‘toe down’ for a more natural appearance once seated. When walking, it automatically gives the ‘toe’ a lift at the exact moment in swing phase that will allow sufficient ground clearance.
This anatomically correct response creates a more symmetrical and balanced gait, reducing the need both to ‘hip hike’ when walking or compromise stability by rolling over the edge of a step when going down stairs. Nor is there any need to load the entire body weight on the sound limb when getting out of a chair.