Ottobock has been heavily involved with providing prostheses for serving personnel and veterans. Our technology has been widely used. In earlier days the C-Leg was heavily used to treat above the knee amputees, and since then with the technological advances in today's world the soldiers are using the very best technology on the market in the form of the Genium knee joint and Genium X3 knee joint.
We mainly saw the latest prosthetic technology at Invictus Games - Genium and Genium X3 prosthetic knee joints being used. At the athletics field there were also running blades being used.
In the last decade Prosthetic technology has come on in leaps and bounds. With the introduction of technology that is used in the aircraft industry, the level of complexity of products has advanced significantly. All this improvement in technology is all focused around the user being able to conduct a normal life and hopes to restore their function back to what it was pre-amputation.
In earlier years materials in prosthetic components was limited to metals, plastics and wood. In today's World carbon fiber plays a big role in the prosthetic foot segment. This material is used because of its strength and durability but still has the unique ability to store energy to help the patient during walking. The quest nowadays is to make components as strong and lightweight as possible, but with all the forces going through a prosthesis during activity - this is no easy project!
Patients using some of the earlier day prostheses may have encountered back ache, and due to very basic controls their walking pattern would not have matched their sound side. They may have found walking with an old fashioned style of prosthesis very tiring and may have been subject to lots of falls because of the very basic knee joint designs.
Nowadays, users can benefit massively from new technology. Prosthetic components are designed to mimic the missing anatomy as close as possible. Their Prosthetists can program the knee joints using a laptop and really fine tune its performance to suit the users' needs. Patients are able to have the leg set up to allow them to carry out special activities whereby a different way of moving is required - for example cycling, running or playing golf. Users really benefit from the high levels of safety that comes from a prosthetic component that is controlled by a microprocessor. With this, data is analyzed from the prosthesis during walking and then the necessary changes in function are made to suit the demands placed by the user.
Prosthetic design in the future is still improving significantly. I think we can expect far more intelligence, even lighter weight materials giving the user even more options to lead a normal daily life.