Innovative Prosthetic Foot Wins Medical Design Excellence Award


An innovative and affordable prosthetic foot, made with DuPont™ Hytrel® won the gold award in the rehabilitation and assistive-technology products category of the 2012 Medical Design Excellence Awards (MDEA), a prestigious design competition for the medical technology industry.

The Niagara Foot is an affordable, effective and field-adjustable prosthetic that enables improved mobility for people everywhere who have lost lower limbs.  The foot, in its next generation, is now named the Rhythm Foot.

“The Rhythm Foot shows that high-performance and life-enhancing benefits can be delivered through materials science,” said Diane H. Gulyas, President, DuPont Performance Polymers.  “It also demonstrates how people with different expertise can achieve far more through collaboration.”  (Click this link to see how the foot made a difference for a market trader in El Salvador.)

DuPont received a 2012 MDEA certificate as supplier of the material used to produce the Rhythm Foot.  The flexibility and durability of Hytrel®, a polyester elastomer, is essential to the foot’s superior function and energy return. The foot anatomically mimics biological foot action, and its affordability means that it is potentially accessible to many more people.  The ability to easily adjust the foot in the field to fine tune its performance makes it dramatically different from existing dynamic prosthetic feet. The foot is intended for use as a permanent option or as an interim prosthesis for the shower, swimming, or for post-operative use.

“There are more than 20 million people without lower limbs who could benefit from this type of foot – the challenge was affordability”, said its inventor, Rob Gabourie, a Canadian board certified prosthetist and the owner of Niagara Prosthetics and Orthotics International Ltd. (NPOI), based in Ontario, Canada.  “This is especially important in countries where large numbers of people have lost limbs as a result of land mines, natural disasters or health conditions.”

Researchers at the Human Mobility Research Centre at Queen’s University and Kingston General Hospital also were part of the team of people and organizations that collaborated on the development.  They conducted laboratory tests and, in partnership with the Universidad Don Bosco in El Salvador, coordinated a number of field trials to refine the foot and to confirm its efficacy in use.