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A smart haptic feedback prosthesis

What is GaitKeeper?

GaitKeeper is a research project with the goal to develop a ‘smart’ transfemoral (lower limb, above knee) prosthesis. This ‘smart’ prosthesis will make it easier, faster, and safer for above knee amputees to learn how to walk with a prosthesis.

It is a collaboration between haptic feedback specialists Elitac Wearables, motion analysis pioneers Gait Up S.A. and leading research institute Holst Center (part of TNO). The project is funded by Eurostars and will run from October 2020 – September 2022.

Why a smart prosthesis?

For above knee amputees, learning to walk with a prosthesis can be a difficult, lengthy and painful process. Prosthesis users must learn to find their balance, coordination, and develop trust in their prosthesis through exercises with a physiotherapist and a more extensive training programme at home.

Practising and frequent feedback on the user’s walking pattern is important for the learning process. However, physiotherapists sometimes struggle to communicate the instructions clearly and cannot monitor the user at home.

Applying haptic feedback

The GaitKeeper project will develop a technology that combines gait analysis with haptic feedback. The resulting smart prosthesis will help prosthesis users, physiotherapists and CPOs (Certified Prosthetists/Orthotists) by monitoring and analysing the wearer’s walking pattern and providing instant feedback through vibrations. This way, the wearer can intuitively adapt their movement, thereby learning and improving more quickly.

Project visual with the text 'Gaitkeeper: Smart prosthesis', the consortium partners' logos and a depiction of a prosthesis.

In a sense, the GaitKeeper system will act as a physiotherapist, constantly on hand to help the prosthesis user, analysing the walking pattern, and giving tips on how to use and wear the prosthesis.

GaitKeeper project goals

Make it easier to learn to walk with a prosthesis

Thanks to the continuous feedback, the user will feel safer and more secure, and therefore more confident.

Reduce the time it takes to learn to walk with a prosthesis

By providing instant and continuous feedback on how the user is moving, the learning process can be shortened.

Lower the risk of falling

A smart prosthesis makes it possible to reduce the risk of falling, through gait analysis.

Reduce overall healthcare costs

By shortening the learning process, overall healthcare costs of amputee rehabilitation can be reduced.

Project result:

  • A functional prototype with integrated electronics for haptic feedback.
  • A supporting app that allows the user to change settings and visualise a range of data.

A smart prosthesis: How does it work?

Visualisation of the process of learning to walk with a smart prosthesis.
The CPO (Certified Prosthetist/Orthotist) fits the prosthesis as normal, and provides guidance and a training programme.
The prosthesis user practices at home: Instead of guessing about the right movement, she/he receives instant feedback about suboptimal walking patterns and instructions on how to improve.
The CPO checks the user’s progress and reviews the motion data to determine whether the fit is right.
Thanks to the continuous feedback, the user keeps learning and improving more quickly.
The frequency of CPO consults can be reduced.
The user keeps improving towards a better mobility.

Research consortium partners

We're very happy to be involved in this project. This is a prime example of the potential value of haptic feedback for medical wearables.

Together with Gait Up's expertise in gait analysis and Holst Centre's knowledge of printed electronics, we can really improve the rehabilitation process for amputees.

Elitac WearablesChristina Bodenstein

Thanks to advancements in hybrid printed electronics, we are now able to incorporate haptic feedback into practical, user-friendly wearables. With GaitKeeper, we aim for next-level wearable integration by combining Holst Centre’s knowledge of printed electronics with the haptic feedback and gait analysis expertise of our partners.

This smart prosthesis will not only make the learning process easier for lower limb prosthesis users, it will also be comfortable to wear. It will help both users and medical practitioners by maximising prosthesis uptake and reducing negative patient experiences.

Holst CentreShavini Stuart-Wijesuriya

Motion analytics provided by Gait Up can benefit patients with orthopedic conditions.

By partnering up with haptic feedback expert Elitac Wearable and leading research institute Holst Center, we can contribute to improved health outcomes by enhancing lower-limb prostheses with real-time haptic feedback on gait."

Gait UpCleo Moulin

Current status: User research

The first stage will consist of market research, stakeholder and end-user input. The use cases for the system will be detailed using design thinking techniques. Overall functional requirements will be determined together with the participants (users, experts and (launching) partners). At the end of this stage there is a common design goal, scope and vision for the project between the consortium partners.

Next steps

In the next step, a Proof of Concept will be constructed for user testing in a controlled environment.

Contact us

If you have any questions about the GaitKeeper project or are interested in partnering with Elitac Wearables for your own project, please leave your details in the form and we will be in touch as soon as possible.


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