John Michael's Corner Welcome to the intersection of orthotics and prosthetics in cyberspace!
This month will have highlights from the "Biomechanical and Engineering Concepts" and concluding "Business Concepts" segments of the International Conference of Advanced Prosthetics as well as continuing the report from the Orthopadie + Reha-Technik World Congress in Leipzig, Germany. It will conclude with some images of historic upper and lower limb prostheses from Germany.

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International Conference of Advanced Prosthetics (ICAP)

The final part of the report from the ICAP meeting follows, covering the ""Biomechanical and Engineering Concepts" and concluding "Business Concepts" segments. If you are interested in more information, the entire proceedings will be available on NTSC videotape for purchase from the Flex-Foot site at www.flexfoot.com.

There were three outstanding speakers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's "Leg Lab". This segment of the world-renowned MIT facility works continuously on the development of mobile robots and the technologies to power and control their movements.

  • Advances in Robotics - Gil Pratt, PhD noted that the robotics industry is now 50 years old, so the era of the massive and stationary industrial robots is waning.
  • Polymer Actuators - Stephen Leeb, PhD introduced the capabilities of polymer actuators, which are synthetic materials that increase or decrease in volume in response to various inputs.
  • Muscle Tissue Engineering - Hugh Herr, PhD spoke on the future technology of muscle tissue engineering.

Business Trends Segment

The final afternoon was devoted primarily to business-related topics that were specific to the current US market conditions and will not be reported here. One presentation of note is reviewed below, and you can also download the outline from the presentation that I gave in this segment.

  • E-Care: Revolution or Evolution - Mike Alderette from the healthcare consulting division of IBM talked about the changes in today's paramedical environment.
  • I presented a historic overview of the globalization of P&O business in the USA in this segment. For those who are interested, the handout outlining the content of these slides can be downloaded here in PDF format. If you don't already have the PDF reader, you can download it free from the Adobe web site.

Orthopaedie + Reha-Technik World Congress 2000

This triennial meeting is the largest exhibition of prosthetic, orthotic, and rehabilitation technology in the world. Consequently, much of the value of this congress is found in the new products and prototypes found on the exhibit floors. Of course, many of the displays were familiar technology and most major US suppliers were represented, either in person or by Euro distributors. But, there were some novel developments here and there.

  • New Scoliosis Orthosis - The TriaC is custom-fitted from a kit of prefabricated bars and straps, and is intended to treat only milder, more flexible curves.
  • Carbon Fiber Pre-Preg Orthoses - Otto Bock Germany was showing some very interesting custom orthoses from their Cfab made from pre-preg carbon fiber material rather than the more familiar vacuum-bag laminations.
  • Prosthetic Knees - New offerings from Otto Bock, Bidermann and Blatchford.
  • Two new variations using contemporary prosthetic knee technology: a polycentric knee with pneumatic swing phase control from Otto Bock, and a microprocessor-controlled hydraulic knee offering both stance and swing phase control from Biedemann-Motech.
  • Historic Devices - The meeting had several display cases full of wonderful examples of German craftsmanship using wood, leather, and similar historic materials.