Charles “Chuck” W. Radcliffe, DEng, passed away on December 6. He was 90 years old.
According to a March 2006 industry leader profile in The O&P EDGE, Radcliffe was a world-renowned engineer, lauded as the father of prosthetic biomechanics. He is a veteran of the U.S. Navy and was awarded three battle stars for action in the Philippines and off Okinawa, Japan. He began his O&P career in 1948 while in the Navy serving as an engineering officer. After World War II, Radcliffe resumed his studies at the University of California (UC), Berkeley and became a member of the mechanical engineering faculty beginning in 1956 and ending in 1988.
Radcliffe was a principal investigator in the Prosthetics Research Group of the Biomechanics Laboratory at UC Berkeley for 35 years when the study of human locomotion and improved prosthetic limb designs were the highest-funded projects. During that time, he also lectured in the design division of the Mechanical Engineering Department and eventually went on to serve as professor emeritus of mechanical engineering.
Radcliffe is largely responsible for pioneering contributions to O&P such as the quadrilateral socket, patellar-tendon-bearing (PTB) prosthesis, solid ankle cushion heel (SACH) foot, and the four-bar prosthetic knee. He is also credited with providing the fundamental principles of the biomechanics of prosthetic alignment and socket force transfer throughout the amputee gait cycle.
He was a member of the International Society for Prosthetics and Orthotics, traveling the world to give lectures. In 1976, he received the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Machine Design Award, which “recognizes eminent achievement or distinguished service in the field of machine design,” according to the ASME website. In 1997, Radcliffe received the Honorary Membership Award from the American Academy of Orthotists and Prosthetists (the Academy), and in February 2006, he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from Hanger, Austin, Texas, at its Educational Fair.
“Chuck was a prominent figure in O&P for many years and someone that helped shape many of the concepts in the modern era of prosthetics,” wrote Gerald Stark, MSEM, CPO, LPO, FAAOP, in an OANDP-L listserv post. “I had the good fortune of getting to know and work with Chuck…. I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to learn from him.”
Radcliffe was preceded in death by his wife Martha. He is survived by his sons, Clark, William, and Kevin; his daughters, Kimberly Medlin and Lisa Radcliffe; 14 grandchildren; and nine great-grandchildren.