Experience with Fitting Flex-Foot Prostheses on a Thirteen-Year-Old Bilateral Below-Knee Amputee
TED A. TROWER, CP, JAMES A. LEONARD, JR., MD,RICHARD D. BALL, MD, AND JANE MANN, RPT**Ann Arbor, Michigan
Application of new technologies and materials to the field of prosthetics has improved the prosthetist's ability to replace functions lost in amputation. Often new materials have simply supplanted older materials in existing products; however, at times the properties of a new material allow creating an entirely novel device. The Flex-Foot is a dual-leaf spring formed of graphite/fiberglass-epoxy composite. This material has an extremely high strength-to-weight ratio as well as the capacity for storage and release of energy. We applied this technology to a 13-year-old boy with traumatic bilateral below-knee amputations. J. H. was 10 months post amputation and had demonstrated the ability and need to perform at a level beyond that allowed by his PTB prostheses with SACH feet, when he was fit with a pair of Flex=Feet. The new components provided these benefits: 1) prostheses' weight was reduced by 50 percent, 2) energy storage and release allowed a smoother and more natural gait with less effort, 3) running and jumping activities were easier and more natural and 4) Flex-Foot is waterproof. This was the first bilateral fitting with this device and, in our opinion, the results clearly warrant additional fittings and investigation of the Flex-Foot.
**University Hospital, The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109