August 3, 2006 (ALISO VIEJO, CA) - Ossur (ICEX: OSSR) - the Iceland-based developer and supplier of orthopedic devices - has launched more scientifically advanced prosthetic innovations than any other company in the field. Now it has seized upon one of the 21st century's hottest areas of technology - bionics - to improve the quality of life for amputees. Prosthetists, the press, and users alike have been dazzled by its knees, which employ motorized power and artificial intelligence, making them the first truly ground-breaking innovations in prosthetics since the late '90s. Bionic Technology by Ossur is continuing to expand not just by utilizing and merging current technologies, but by advancing them and conceiving entirely new ones.
The latest addition - slated for launch later this year - is the PROPRIO FOOT TM, the world's first motor-powered and intelligent foot that thinks for itself, operating as closely as you can get today to natural, human functioning. For an amputee, this means a more balanced, symmetric and confident gait even when climbing stairs or hills, the unprecedented ability to stand up or sit down naturally from a chair, and less consequential strain on the rest of the body. It joins two other prosthetics which utilize Ossur's Bionic Technology platform. One is the RHEO KNEE TM, the award-winning system so smart it automatically adapts to the wearer's walking style and environment, learning continuously until it reaches optimal efficiency. The other is the POWER KNEE TM, the world's first motor-powered knee. This advanced bionic prosthesis replaces true muscle activity, thus making it possible - for the first time ever - for an amputee to go up stairs and inclines foot-over-foot. In every possible way, Bionic Technology by Ossur represents a quantum leap forward when it comes to improving the quality of life for amputees. It's a testament to the value of the RHEO KNEE and the POWER KNEE that the U.S. Department of Defense is fitting them on servicemen who have lost limbs. The road to innovation is paved with possibilities, dedication and dollars, and it's not by chance that Ossur has become a world leader: the company allocates 6 to 8 percent of its revenues to reseach and development. The PROPRIO FOOT was developed entirely in-house by Ossur's R&D department, the RHEO KNEE was co-invented with Hugh Herr, Ph.D., associate professor at MIT and director of the Biomechatronics department at MIT's Media Lab; and the POWER KNEE was co-developed with Victhom Human Bionics, an Ossur partner.
The Thinking Man's Prosthesis
As with the RHEO KNEE and the POWER KNEE, the PROPRIO FOOT is a seamless fusion of electronics, mechanics and human physiology. The future is now when it comes to the sophisticated technology that goes into these prostheses.
A case in point is artificial intelligence (AI), a branch of computer science dealing with intelligent behavior, learning and adaptation in machines. Ossur uses highly advanced AI to increase the functionality of its prostheses to reduce the user's mental and physical effort, as well as the ensuing stress on other body parts following an amputation. The results are prostheses that actually do some thinking and can deal with day-to-day events like a change of shoes or heavy lifting.
Power motion, too, allows for previously unknown levels of functionality, user-safety and carefree mobility. It has the capacity to replace lost muscle function from the subtle lifting of the toe, to the powerful knee extension required for foot-over-foot stair climbing.
A Walk into the Future
A look at technologies yet to come for lower limb prosthetics reveals osseointegration, the science of implanting man-made, load bearing anchoring mechanisms directly into the living bone. The fixture bonds with the surrounding tissue and ultimately the prosthesis is attached to it and can withstand all normal conditions of loading.
Neurosensing is where there is likely to be even more exciting advancements within the next two or three years, says Hilmar B. Janusson, Ph.D., Ossur's vice president of Research and Development. This is when a prosthetic device is connected to the human neurological system enabling the user to regain voluntary control over the prosthesis at a thinking level, instead of having to manipulate the prosthetic function solely by means of joint mobility and muscular activity. "The next level will happen when the prosthetic device can actually anticipate the intention of the user," says Janusson.
In other words, you'll think about taking a step and your foot will act. This can only be achieved when the prosthesis is able to be coupled to the human neural system and neuro-implants read the user's mind and respond accordingly.
As impressive as the technology is, in the end, it's about "Using technology to enhance people's lives," says Janusson. And that's what drives Ossur into the future where technology will meet human need in yet unimaginable ways.
For more information about Bionic Technology by Ossur and the amazing paths the company is trailblazing, please visit: www.ossur.com/bionics. You will find in-depth explanations of bionic technology, the latest data, product specifications and helpful tools such as the ability to a control a 360° view of the PROPRIO FOOT with a mouse.
Ossur (Icelandic Stock Exchange: OSSR) is as much about helping people to live a life without limitations as it is about its orthopaedic products. A trusted and global leader in the development, manufacturing, distribution, sales and marketing of bracing and support products and prosthetics, Ossur pioneers award-winning designs - including its Bionic Technology platform - and partners with the health practitioners who use them to deliver successful clinical and business outcomes. Headquartered in Reykjavik, Iceland, the company has operations and a distribution network throughout the world. The company allocates an industry record of 6-8 percent of its revenue on research and development to conceive and harness the most advanced technologies for incorporation in its product designs, and provides extensive education programs through the Ossur Academy. Ossur is a 2006 World Economic Forum Technology Pioneer. Website: www.ossur.com
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