RxFunction (Eden Prairie, Minn.) recently announced that it was awarded a federal contract to develop a system to incorporate its Walkasins sensory neuroprosthetic technology into artificial limbs for active-duty military members, veterans and civilians with lower limb trauma and/or loss.
In collaboration with Liberating Technologies (Holliston, Mass.), RxFunction will develop a system using Walkasins neuroprosthetic technology to perform advanced balance and gait training for those utilizing artificial limbs. The Defense Health Agency awarded the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Direct Phase II contract. Liberating Technologies is the research arm of College Park Industries, now part of Össur Group, a manufacturer of non-invasive orthopaedics. The grant is anticipated to be in excess of $1 million dollars.
“I am thrilled that we were able to get this competitive Department of Defense contract in collaboration with the excellent research team at LTI,” said principal investigator Lars Oddsson, CTO of RxFunction and co-inventor of the Walkasins technology, in a news release. “It is a wonderful opportunity to be able to combine our technology, experience and expertise with theirs to develop a new rehabilitation tool that can help improve gait and balance function for those with lower limb loss.“
Loss of balance and associated falls are a significant problem for active-duty military members, veterans and civilians with lower limb trauma and limb loss. Therapists currently lack readily available tools to use in the clinic for advanced balance and gait training to decrease fall risk and increase performance, according to RxFunction. Walkasins is a wearable, lower-limb sensory neuroprosthesis designed to improve balance and gait in patients with sensory peripheral neuropathy, a disorder where the nerves in the feet are damaged causing numbness.
“We are incredibly excited to have the opportunity to continue our collaboration with the team at RxFunction,” said LTI research director Todd Farrell. “This project aligns with our company’s strategic goals of developing novel technologies to improve the quality of life of individuals with limb difference. I believe that the synergistic nature of the technologies that each company is bringing to the project will allow for the development and deployment of an effective rehabilitation tool for the warfighter, veteran and civilian populations.”
Future commercial applications would extend the technology into a prosthesis to provide remote patient monitoring capabilities with therapy on an ongoing basis.
“It’s exciting to see this next development coming out of our strong and extensive IP portfolio,” said RxFunction CEO Tom Morizio. “This project can help open a market to serve a new population of patients in need, and is in line with our longer-term plans to expand this technology into other applications and new neuromuscular disease indications, building on our work in peripheral neuropathy.”