Two university professors recently received a $1.5 million grant to study a microprocessor-controlled prosthetic foot (MPF) for use with military veteran amputees with limited mobility.
Audrey Zucker-Levin, PhD, PT, MBA, GCS Emeritus, and Phyllis Richey, PhD—a professor and associate professor, respectively from The University of Tennessee Health Science Center—received the grant from the US Army Medical Research Acquisition Activity, part of the Department of Defense, according to a media release from the university.
The grant will allow Zucker-Levin, from the Department of Physical Therapy in the College of Health Professions, and Richey, from the Departments of Preventive Medicine, Physical Therapy and Pediatrics in the College of Health Professions and Medicine, to direct the Veteran Amputees Leading prOsthetic Research (VALOR) study at UTHSC, the release explains.
The aim of the study, titled “The Effect of a Microprocessor Prosthetic Foot on Function and Quality of Life in Transtibial Amputees Who Are Limited Community Ambulators,” will be to determine if an MPF could be a possible alternative to the most commonly prescribed prosthesis for a below-the-knee veteran amputee.
It is hoped that the 3-year study will determine whether using an MPF rather than a traditionally prescribed prosthetic foot will help improve walking efficiency, safety, and quality of life among the veteran amputees participating in the study, per the release.
The typically prescribed prosthetic foot does not lift the toe when a step is taken. However, the MPF, which is designed to lift the toe, theoretically should help make walking easier and reduce the risk of falling among wearers, according to the release.
Unfortunately, the release explains, the MPF is currently not prescribed for the typical below-the-knee amputee, who is an older person with complications from vascular disease and diabetes. Guidelines for prescribing the MPF restrict the device to higher-functioning individuals, such as active, athletic amputees.
“Due to financial limitations, newer prosthetic components are traditionally provided to the more able-bodied amputee,” says Zucker-Levin, in the release. “I am excited to see if providing a high-tech foot will improve function in the typical amputee.”
[Source: The University of Tennessee Health Science Center]