Above-Knee Amputee Gait Takes Another Step
28 Sep 2017
Computerized knee componentry, possibly the major prosthetic technology breakthrough of the last decade, has taken another step forward with the introduction of the Rheo Knee™, a microprocessor-controlled swing and stance system that continuously samples and “learns” the user’s gait pattern and optimizes cadence response.
The Rheo Knee thus joins the C-Leg and Adaptive Knee in the growing arena of microprocessor-actuated advanced knee componentry.
The Rheo name derives from the knee’s “magnetorheological (MR) fluid actuator,” which varies swing resistance to adapt to its user’s movements in real-time.
Electronic sensors within the knee measure changes in knee angle and load bearing 1000 times per second.
A computer chip creates and regulates magnetic field intensity to control the viscosity of the MR fluid and thereby deliver the proper degree of resistance with each step.
For above-knee amputees, this technology can mean greater security, more natural motion, less ambulation fatigue, and the ability to walk with confidence on uneven surfaces.
By continually sampling the sensors’ force measurements, the microprocessor is always aware of how the limb is being loaded.
Disturbances in the user’s path are readily detected and stance support instantly activated to protect against a potential stumble and fall. The Rheo also provides safeguards against inadvertent stance release: The knee must be fully extended, momentarily still and achieve 20 percent of the average maximum extension moment during each step to initiate flexion.
The Rheo Knee’s microprocessor-controlled stance feature enables amputees to negotiate a ramp, stairs or uneven terrain with confidence, some for the first time.
Unlike conventional hydraulic knee systems, Rheo Knee swing resistance is activated only when necessary.
Veteran amputees who have worn the Rheo report the welcome experience of walking freely and resistance free with easy motion and less effort, reducing oxygen consumption and fatigue.
The Rheo Knee, developed by Ossur in conjunction with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has won various accolades including the 2005 Frost & Sullivan Technology of the Year Award and inclusion in Fortune Magazine’s 25 Best Products of 2004 and Time Magazine’s Coolest Products of 2004. Like most advanced technology, the Rheo Knee is not inexpensive and definitely not for everyone.
However, this new technology promises even greater prosthetic capabilities for amputees in the future.
Today’s prosthetics are more advanced than most people ever thought possible. Call LeTourneau Prosthetics today for a free consultation to find out what the latest advances can do for you! Our offices are located in Beaumont, Nederland/Port Arthur, and Jasper. We see patients from all over Texas and Louisiana. Find out why people travel for our advanced prosthetic products and services.