Advanced Medical Materials to Contribute to Improved Prostheses

Posted by Bob Michaels on January 25, 2013

A team of researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech; Atlanta) and Florida State University (Tallahassee) have been awarded a $4.4 million contract to engineer an improved prosthetic socket system to improve the lives of veteran amputees. As part of the project, the researchers will focus on developing innovative adaptive materials that are better able to handle changes in limb volume and pressure while providing active cooling and temperature control. In addition, they will design the new socket system and evaluate advanced manufacturing technologies.

“This transformative project will leverage the latest advances in innovative materials and advanced manufacturing technologies to build the next-generation prosthetic socket system with significantly improved comfort," remarks Ben Wang, a professor in the Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering and the executive director of the Georgia Tech Manufacturing Institute.

“Despite the advances made in prosthetics over the years, the socket continues to be a major source of discomfort for our amputees due to issues arising from poor fit, elevated temperatures and moisture accumulation,” adds Changchun (Chad) Zeng, a Florida A&M University–FSU College of Engineering assistant professor and principal investigator on the project. “These adverse conditions effectively limit the basic activities of amputees and can greatly diminish their quality of life. This award gives us the opportunity to tackle those problems so our veteran amputees can live better, more fulfilling lives.”

By integrating such advanced materials as composites and nanomaterials and by implementing such new manufacturing technologies as additive manufacturing and printed electronics, the team hopes to create a next-generation prosthetic device that offers significantly improved comfort. While the first phase of the project will focus on developing and testing technologies for the individual socket components, the second will optimize each system, refine the materials, and produce prototypes.

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