KCF Technologies, State College, Pennsylvania, has been awarded a Phase I Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant for a project to improve sensing technologies used to monitor socket fit and residual-limb health in individuals with amputations. The solution being developed by KCF will include a new socket sensor system employing the company’s existing wireless technology along with an array of thin, flexible, ultralow power sensors to measure skin pressures and temperatures and to track other aspects of limb health.
“Currently, the only way to monitor the fit of a prosthetic socket in the clinic is to wait until the patient reports pain or has skin breakdown issues, and/or to take a simple circumference measurement of the limb at periodic follow-up appointments,” said Brian Kaluf, CP, clinical outcome and research officer of Ability Prosthetics & Orthotics, headquartered in Exton, Pennsylvania. (Ability and KCF are strategic partners.) “This poses a high risk of costly secondary complications and potentially causing the patient not to be able to wear the prosthesis. [Small, wireless sensors] will potentially maximize the function of advanced prosthetic limbs and ensure that the device fits the patient’s limb and life best.
“This project has the potential to greatly improve the lives of amputees,” said project lead Greg Harkay. “The low-profile, flexible sensors will prevent discomfort while providing data to monitor limb health.”
KCF is a technology development company. One of its five core technical focus areas is prosthetics and electro-mechanical devices. In 2011, KCF received funding from the U.S. Department of Defense to develop energy-harvesting components. KCF also manufactured the Kinetic Revolutions Adjustable Pylon.