Niagara Foot - The innovative, low cost, energy-return prosthetic foot

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Technical Report - Niagara Foot Pilot Study in Thailand
30 January 2002
   T. Ziolo and J.T. Bryant

Executive Summary

The Niagara foot is a novel low cost energy-return prosthetic foot intended to provide improved performance in lower limb amputees. It was developed as part of the landmine victims relief programme of The Canadian Centre for Mine Action Technology (CCMAT) by Niagara Prosthetics and Orthotics (St. Catherines, ON) and Queen’s University (Kingston, ON) with the collaboration of Dupont Engineering Polymers (Wilmington, DE) and Recto Molded Products (Cincinnati, OH).

With the assistance of, the Thailand Mine Action Centre (TMAC) a study team visited Aranyaprathet Hospital from November 1, 2001 to November 10, 2001 to perform a clinical trial of the device. The study was conducted on 15 volunteer subjects to get early feedback on the compatibility of the foot with existing prosthetic systems and to determine the initial performance of the device.

All patients were initially wearing SACH (Solid Ankle Cushion Heel) feet and Niagara feet were retrofitted onto the existing prosthesis systems. Although the Niagara foot could be fitted to wooden systems, it should not be used due to the high force demands on the connecting bolt assembly.

From the study it was observed that most patients were able to appreciate the biomechanical differences of the Niagara foot compared to the SACH design. Although there was some initial concern regarding stability, these concerns likely reflected the flexibility of the Niagara foot and the energy return capabilities of it. The mechanism of the energy return system also explains comments regarding the Niagara foot such as “lighter” and softer”.

The main challenge with the Niagara foot is cosmesis. Although patients were satisfied with the performance of the Niagara foot, they were generally dissatisfied with the foot’s ability to fit inside their current footwear.


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