February 2013

High-tech materials group wins contract to develop advanced prosthetics for vets

A new $4.4 million contract with the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will support the High-Performance Materials Institute (HPMI) at Florida State University in Tallahassee in a major effort to develop the next generation of prosthetic limbs for military veteran amputees.

The two-year VA Innovation Initiative (VAi2) project is aimed at addressing the shortcomings of current prosthetic socket systems through development, testing, and delivery of SOCAT (socket optimized for comfort with advanced technology) prototypes.

The SOCAT prototypes will feature a combination of advanced composite materials and technology, some of which are cornerstone research and development initiatives of HPMI. These components, such as auxetic materials (which have the unique property of getting thicker when stretched) and carbon nanotube buckypaper, will enable an intelligent prosthetic socket system that monitors the socket environment and self-adjusts on the fly to provide new levels of comfort. In addition, the system will record vital information on the socket environment, such as pressure, temperature, and moisture, which will be transmitted wirelessly to O&P practitioners to facilitate improved patient care.

The first phase of the two-year contract will focus on developing and testing the specific technologies for individual socket components. The second phase will involve the refinement of each system and material and the complete production of the prototypes.

The SOCAT research team being led by HPMI also includes researchers from Advanced Materials Professional Services in Longwood, FL, the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, Prosthetic and Orthotic Associates in Orlando, FL, Quantum Motion Medical in Orlando, and St. Petersburg College.

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