Start-up company Koa Technologies, Honolulu, Hawaii, was recently awarded a $219,799 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to develop a more comfortable prosthetic suspension system. According to an article in the Pacific Business News, Koa will partner with the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s Department of Mechanical Engineering to help develop the product.
According to the grant abstract, the grant will be used to prove the concept of electromagnetic suspension for prosthetic limbs. The hypothesis is that an intelligent electromagnetic suspension system can be made that improves the connection between the prosthesis and the residual limb and reduces residual limb volume loss. To accomplish this, a suspension system with electromagnets embedded in the socket will be developed and incorporated into an existing socket. A feedback loop will be implemented to control the attractive force between the electromagnets and magnetic material embedded in the liner. A microprocessor will be used to control the electromagnets according to pressure sensor output from within the socket. The prototype will undergo functional and mechanical testing, the results of which will show the feasibility of the idea for magnetic attachment.