With the 2012 Paralympic Games nearing its final stretch, these devices show what lies ahead in prosthetics, from bionic limbs to incredibly sophisticated robotic hands.
Flex-Foot Cheetah by Ossur
These J-shaped carbon fiber blades were worn by South African Oscar Pistorius to run in both the Olympic and Paralympic games. The technology used in the Cheetah, made by Icelandic company Ossur, hasn’t changed since the late 1990s. In that time, Pistorius has shaved seconds off his personal best through training alone.
BiOM by iWalk
Billed as the world’s first bionic ankle system, the BiOM uses battery-powered robotics to mimic leg muscles and adjust to changing terrain. The foot provides a powered push-off that propels the wearer forward, helping them maintain a natural walking motion in each phase of their gait.
Soleus by College Park
The innovative multiple-spring design, chosen by Japanese track and field athlete Maya Nakanishi, ensures natural movement, smooth transitions, and a wide range of motion.
Proprio by Ossur
Ossur calls this bionic prosthetic the world’s first intelligent foot. The powered ankle motion, which lifts the toe to avoid trips and falls, alongside its intelligent terrain adaptation and natural function, make the Proprio feel particularly life-like.
Above-the-knee amputee Heinrich Popow wears these custom-made legs when he competes in the 100m, 200m, and long-jump competitions. The socket connecting the residual limb and the prosthetic leg must be a perfect fit to minimize the loss of energy through movement and friction. Unlike the blades worn by Pistorius, these prosthetics include a mechanical knee that allow the leg to bend and straighten naturally.
Genium by Ottobock
Human knees are incredibly hard to mimic. This state-of-the-art microprocessor-controlled knee joint uses sensors to detect information more than 100 times per second to emulate the user’s natural gait.
Power Knee by Össur
As its name suggests, this active prosthetic for above-knee amputees gives users extra power to maintain walking speeds and go up stairs. A combination of accelerometers, gyroscopes, a torque sensor, and a load cell work together to constantly monitor the movement of the knee, making it an integrated extension of the user.
I-LIMB by Touch Bionics
The i-LIMB claims to be the most advanced artificial hand on the market. Each finger can move on its own, and the thumb is rotatable through 90 degrees. The hand is controlled by electrical impulses created by contracting muscles, which are picked up by electrodes in the wrist and interpreted by a computer in the back of the hand.