Development of the system was financed by a $1M Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Direct Phase II contract from the Defense Health Agency, part of the US Department of Defense. Incorporation of Walkasins into artificial limbs aims to enhance the rehabilitation of gait and balance for active-duty military members, veterans, and civilians with lower limb trauma and/or loss.
Walkasins is an external lower limb sensory prosthesis intended to replace the nerve function used for detection and signaling of foot pressure sensation. It was developed to help improve balance in patients who experience gait and mobility problems due to sensory peripheral neuropathy, a disorder where the nerves in the feet are damaged causing numbness.
The project, titled “Optimize Performance and Mitigate Falls in Warfighters with Lower Limb Trauma and/or Loss,” will be conducted in collaboration with LTI, the Holliston, Mass-based research arm of College Park Industries, now part of Össur Group, a provider of non-invasive orthopaedics, according to RxFunction Inc, headquartered in Eden Prairie, Minn, in a media release.
“I am thrilled that we were able to get this competitive Department of Defense contract in collaboration with the excellent research team at LTI. It is a wonderful opportunity to be able to combine our technology, experience and expertise with theirs to develop a new rehabilitation tool that can help improve gait and balance function for those with lower limb loss.“
— Dr. Lars Oddsson, Principal Investigator, CTO of RxFunction, and co-inventor of the Walkasins technology
“We are incredibly excited to have the opportunity to continue our collaboration with the team at RxFunction. This project aligns with our company’s strategic goals of developing novel technologies to improve the quality of life of individuals with limb difference. I believe that the synergistic nature of the technologies that each company is bringing to the project will allow for the development and deployment of an effective rehabilitation tool for the Warfighter, Veteran, and civilian populations.”
— Dr Todd Farrell, Director of Research at LTI
Loss of balance and associated falls are a significant problem for active-duty military members, veterans, and civilians with lower limb trauma and limb loss. Therapists currently lack readily available tools to use in the clinic for advanced balance and gait training to decrease fall risk and increase performance.
Future commercial applications would extend the technology into a prosthesis to provide remote patient monitoring capabilities with therapy on an ongoing basis.
“It’s exciting to see this next development coming out of our strong and extensive IP portfolio. This project can help open a market to serve a new population of patients in need, and is in line with our longer-term plans to expand this technology into other applications and new neuromuscular disease indications, building on our work in peripheral neuropathy.”
— RxFunction CEO, Tom Morizio
[Source: RxFunction Inc]