A Thai research team developed dynamic prosthetic feet, which are lightweight, flexible, and may be much cheaper than other options.

A research team from the engineering faculty at Chulalongkorn University in Thailand has developed dynamic prosthetic feet which are flexible and bendable and can store energy with each step.

The prosthetic feet are made from carbon fiber, making them lightweight but strong and durable. Users can walk with them on rough terrains or in light exercise.

Thailand now has 39,647 people with disabilities, over 95% of whom are using poor-quality prosthetic feet, which are heavy and do not have ankles, according to the National Statistical Office of Thailand.

According to researchers, the new design has comparable qualities and efficiency compared with the imported prosthetic feet available in the market but with a 5 times cheaper cost of production.

“Developing dynamic prosthetic feet, which are considered a medical device, required the efforts of a network of doctors and prosthetists and orthotists sharing their expertise and interdisciplinary knowledge in order to achieve good-quality dynamic prosthetic feet that meet international standards,” said Dr Pairat Tangpornprasert, assistant professor from the Mechanical Engineering Department at Chulalongkorn University. “I am proud to have successfully produced good-quality prosthetics and helped those with disabilities to regain function of their limbs.”

The dynamic prosthetic feet have undergone clinical trials with 20 patients with disabilities and yielded highly satisfactory results, according to Tangpornprasert.

They have received the ISO 10328 strength standards from Germany and are certified with ISO 13485 for quality. It has also been registered as a medical device with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), granted a petty patent, and registered in Thai SME-GP.

The prosthetic feet are currently in the process of being registered with Thai Innovation, requesting a Made in Thailand certificate and requesting a CE marking.

The National Research Council of Thailand funded the dynamic prosthetic foot project. It is part of the prosthesis and orthosis for the disabled project under the “New Beginnings with Research and Innovation” to commemorate the coronation of King Rama X.

Sixty-seven dynamic prosthetic feet were given to people with disabilities at over 13 hospitals. The innovation is currently being considered for government medical benefit schemes so that it may be accessible for people with disabilities, which will help improve their quality of life.