Only 1 in 10 people in need has access to prosthetic and orthotic devices, due to their extremely high cost and the lack of access to skilled physicians. The result? Millions of people are denied the basic quality of life because they can’t walk, take care of themselves, or participate in society.
LIMBER uses novel 3D printing and digital design techniques to create affordable, unibody prosthetic devices. The LIMBER process starts with a scan of the amputee’s limbs. Next, using digital design, the scans are transformed into a personalized prosthesis that we manufacture using our in-house 3D printers. 3D printing allows us to reduce the cost of our limbs to less than one-tenth of the cost of comparable devices.
In comparison with traditional prosthetic devices, we lowered the average cost, weight, and time of production by 70%, 55%, and 95%, respectively. We are still in the early stages of commercialization and we will be performing a study to determine the maximum price customers will be willing to pay for our devices.
Our technology, creating a ‘unibody’ (single-piece) prosthetic device, is significantly better than that of our competitors who use off-the-shelf components for many parts of their device. With a digital workflow, where alignment can be done in CAD, creating a monocoque device preserves all the benefits that digital design offers. Competitors only scan, design, and print the socket, and then must buy the pylon, foot, ankle, pyramid connectors, and all hardware. Our strategy is to offer our digital services to physicians, allowing us to get access to many patients without the limitations of a physical location or a single clinic.
LIMBER Prosthetic and Orthotics inc started as a grassroots, student-driven research effort at UC San Diego’s CHEI and DroneLab, with campus-wide reach via its experiential learning course, “Engineering Frontiers (SE 283),” exploring human-centric systems. SE283 has been taught by LIMBER team members Prof. Falko Kuester and Ph.D. candidate Luca DeVivo over the past three years.
Our team bridges the gap between engineering and clinical expertise. This separates us from our competitors. We have three part-time members and one full-time member. Our team consists of Professor Falko Kuester, Ph.D. (PT), Ph.D. student Joshua Pelz (PT), Ph.D. student Luca De Vivo (PT), and Herb Barack, Certified Prosthetists/Orthotists (FT). In addition, we have worked closely with our patients from day-one to make sure we are addressing their prosthetic needs and including their perspectives regarding comfort and function.
The team subsequently was invited to join the 2019 I-Corp MedTech Accelerator Program, helping create the roadmap towards at-scale, translational product development and rollout. Along the journey, we have been inspired and touched by every single amputee we meet and work with. We believe that with our technology we have a chance to make a big impact in the world.