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Prosthetic Knees

August 14, 2015

Engineers produce mechanical prosthetic knees for patients in developing countries.




A 3-D rendering of the prosthetic knee prototype. (Courtesy of Winter, Murthy, Arlekatti, et al.)

High tech, low-cost prosthetics. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

High tech prosthetic knees enable many people who have lost limbs to walk and even compete in athletic challenges.  But they rely on electronics, cost thousands of dollars, and simply aren’t an option for people living in developing countries. MIT engineer Amos Winter says these amputees suffer disproportionately.


So if you are viewed as disabled it might prevent you from getting a job, or getting married; you can face very significant stigmas if you look disabled.


In the journal Transactions on Neural Systems and Rehabilitative Engineering, Winter and his colleagues describe a low-cost prosthetic knee, built solely from mechanical parts. It can be adjusted for people of various heights and weights, and lets them walk with no discernible limp. The device is now undergoing testing with patients in India.  I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.