Essential Tech Centre
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Robust, dynamic prosthetic feet

“There is no greater disability in society than the inability to see a person as more.” – Robert M. Hensel

80% of people in need of prosthetic limbs live in developing regions – but only about 5-10% have access to them?

The challenge: Needs for prosthetics in humanitarian contexts

If people with amputations in developing or vulnerable contexts have access prosthetic limbs, they 

are able to earn a living, contribute to society and lead active lives. Humanitarian organizations like the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) work to address the problem of access with inexpensive prosthetics and training to use them. But available options present problems. They are either:

  • Not adapted: High-tech carbon fibre prostheses available in developed regions are dynamic and offer excellent mobility, but are highly expensive and fragile.
  • Limited in impact on peoples’ lives: Robust, low-cost prosthesis usually used in developing regions are very basic and rigid, and wear out rapidly in harsh conditions. 

Our Adapted Solution: Prosthetics that combine affordability with agility

The ICRC asked EPFL to help create an affordable, yet dynamic and robust prosthetic foot. Working with EPFL labs, we used our methodology to design an alternative adapted to humanitarian contexts.

 The solution considers the context of use and a solution that would be universally accessible. This includes the person’s needs for mobility as well as their physical environment and how it impacts the lifecycle of the limb. The Agilis prosthetic foot is:

  • Robust and aesthetic
  • Dynamic: increased biomechanical capabilities
  • Affordable: 40x cheaper than existing carbon-fiber-based solutions

Agilis prosthetic foot project status

Today the patented Agilis foot is being deployed in the field by the ICRC, enabling people with amputations to live active, dynamic lives.

Agilis project partners

The Agilis project was conducted by EssentialTech in collaboration with three EPFL labs and the ICRC. Funding support was provided by the Swiss Commission for Technology and Innovation. 

EPFL labs:

Laboratory for Processing of Advanced Composites

Laboratory of Movement Analysis and Measurement

Laboratory of Applied Mechanics and Reliability Analysis

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Computer modelling.
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Physical testing at EPFL.
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EssentialTech’s Business Model Canvas used to assess the feasibility for a sustainable social business in low-income contexts.
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The Agilis prototype currently in field testing with the ICRC. It will be marketed by an ICRC-created social initiative called Rehab’Impulse.

Image credits: Adobe, ICRC, Mathieu Janier, EPFL, EssentialTech

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