Startup Develops Adjustable Transfemoral Prosthesis

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In a Guatemalan workshop, OpenGait fabricates traditional prostheses.

Photograph courtesy of  NC State University..

OpenGait, a startup created by graduate students, has developed a prosthesis that can be easily adjusted to help people with transfemoral amputations worldwide. Founders Lindsay Sullivan, Dustin Prescott, and Aaron Fleming identified three key locations on limbs that can withstand the pressure of using a prosthesis and developed a socket system that can adjust on three axes. The company says the adjustability streamlines the fabrication process, removing the need for custom molding and making it easier to fit the device.

In 2017, Sullivan and Fleming were studying in the Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering at North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, and Prescott was earning his master's degree in business administration. The three were introduced to LifeNabled, a company that provides O&P devices in developing nations, which led them to create a prototype of the adjustable prosthesis and to found their company. Using recent feedback from two testers in Guatemala, OpenGait is continuing to develop the device for longer wear time. The team hopes to have a final prototype of the socket system within two years.

The company is also developing a kit that will include everything needed to fit prostheses for people with transfemoral amputations even if they don't live near a medical facility with prosthetic services.

"One of the reasons I got into biomedical engineering was to solve problems and improve technology to improve quality of life," Sullivan said. "You can have a direct impact."

To see a video about the device and kit, visit OpenGait Prosthetics provides a new solution for above-knee amputees - Prosthetic Kit.

Editor's note: This story was adapted from materials provided by North Carolina State University.