Pitt, University City Science Center Collaborate to Commercialize Prosthetic Alignment Tool

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The HD protractor measures alignment angles of the prosthesis. Photograph courtesy of Pitt.

The University of Pittsburgh (Pitt) Innovation Institute and the University City Science Center are collaborating to commercialize a Pitt-developed technology that improves the alignment of lower-limb prostheses. The technology, the HD protractor, is intended to be used by prosthetists during the alignment process to facilitate accurate fittings, thereby reducing physical discomfort and wear and tear from misalignments, additional clinical appointments, and the risk of patients modifying their own prostheses. The technology was developed by Goeran Fiedler, PhD, assistant professor in Pitt's School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, and former Pitt faculty member Jonathan Akins, PhD, who is now at Widener University.

The device consists of a compact housing that can be temporarily attached to any prosthesis pylon by a clip mechanism. Integrated sensors detect the position of the internal pyramid adapter component, which is translated into alignment angles for display. Future releases will allow the storage of pre-settings to support simple alignment changes by nonclinicians, and Wi-Fi connectivity for easier documentation and collection of clinical and research data. As a tool not subject to regulatory requirements typical for medical devices, the developers said the HD protractor could also be offered in international markets.

The Science Center program is a startup accelerator that launches "long-horizon" technologies that typically require significant development or regulatory approvals, such as in healthcare, materials, or energy. The program matches university partners with experienced entrepreneurs to aid them through the commercialization process. The group has worked with the Pitt team to develop a commercialization plan and has provided assistance in applying for a federal Small Business Technology Transfer grant to further develop the technology. If the startup is successful in obtaining grants, the Science Center could choose to make additional investments or seek other investors or industry funding for the company.

Editor's note: This story was adapted from materials provided by Pitt.