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Two Companies Come Together on New Prosthetic Technology

Coapt and WillowWood are developing a liner for upper extremity prosthetic devices that combines the benefits of interface and pattern recognition technologies.

Kristopher Sturgis


Coapt and WillowWood expect to release a new liner product for upper extremity prosthetic devices by 2018.


Two prosthetic device makers have teamed up in an effort to make upper extremity prosthetic devices more comfortable. Coapt and WillowWood plan to collaborate on a new advanced liner technology designed to add comfort and support to upper extremity prosthetic devices.

Blair Lock, co-founder and CEO of Coapt, said the new partnership was a simple decision when looking at what the two companies could achieve when combining their respective knowledge and expertise.

"The need for a product combining the two areas of expertise of Coapt and WillowWood was obvious," Lock said. "It was the high reputation of each party as a leader in their respective technologies that catalyzed the partnership. Both Coapt and WillowWood will accomplish a new element of achievement in their respective missions, which is generally, to provide prosthesis users with new, beneficial technologies."

Lock helped found Coapt alongside engineers and physicians who work in the field of upper limb prosthetics in an effort to develop an advanced, algorithmic control technology for powered prosthetic limbs. Their original technology was based on decades of academic exploration and soon found widespread applicability to amputee patients in need of innovative new solutions that could increase functionality.

The new partnership signals an intent from both companies to offer amputees the highest level of limb functionality without sacrificing comfort. The new liner is expected to bring together WillowWood's expertise in interface design, with Coapt's pattern recognition solution. The goal is to create a new system that embeds electrodes into a prosthetic liner that will give users greater comfort and control over their myoelectric device, without having to obtain a whole new prosthetic device.

"The new aspect of this technology is the factory-integration of EMG (muscle signal) detection sensors, into an off-the-shelf prosthetic liner system," Lock said. "One of the barriers to greater adoption of prosthetic technologies is the reliability of the human-machine interface. Not to mention the added level of clinical education required to assist the practitioners willing to adopt new technologies and techniques. This liner works to address both of those by providing a foolproof, ready-to-use interface system. In a way, the liner will allow the focus to be centered on the prosthetic device, the clinical training, and the system comfort."

With new prosthetic breakthroughs emerging almost every year, there's no wonder that we're on the cusp of the next generation of innovative prosthetic technologies. Despite many different device makers trying to stake their own claim in the market, Lock said that together with WillowWood, Coapt can serve a need for amputees that can enhance the efficacy of current devices, rather than completely change what users already own and are familiar with.

"The Coapt-WillowWood partnership is positioned for continued collaboration as our core competencies are extremely well-aligned and very complimentary," Lock said. "What is unique is that we provide a product that is a complementary device to virtually all of the players in our field -- that is, our system is an 'add-on' that can enhance the efficacy of other systems. We also maintain a strong foundation in our academic roots and are able to balance the academic-commercial chasm very well. We know this is crucial in developing and maintaining collaborative partnerships with industry titans, such as WillowWood."

As the group moves forward with the development of the new system, Lock maintains that the technology is very close to being ready for commercial production.

"This is becoming close to a production item," he says. "The fundamental research has been ongoing for years and the remaining stages are in an appropriate phase of clinical testing and production planning. We expect this product to be available by 2018."

Kristopher Sturgis is a contributor to Qmed.


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