Personalised foot prosthesis for indoor climbing in development at the AGH UST

The photo shows a man on a climbing wall. The left foot of the climber is prosthetic.

Kamil Warchoł, an AGH UST student, uses a tailor-made prosthesis, which unfortunately, doesn’t allow him to climb, photo by Maciej Talar, KSAF AGH

The photo shows students in a mechanical laboratory. A man holds a foot prosthesis, supporting it on a wooden table. Behind him, in the middle, is a woman. On the right side, there are blue boxes and laboratory devices.

Using 3D scanning and printing, the results of the project can become an innovative solution for prosthetics, photo by Zbigniew Sulima

A group of 8 students in a mechanical laboratory (3 women in the front and 5 men behind them).

AGH UST students develop a personalised foot prosthesis for indoor climbing, photo by Zbigniew Sulima

AGH UST students develop a personalised foot prosthesis for indoor climbing. The solution under development is to answer the needs of Kamil Warchoł, an AGH UST student who, as a result of foot amputation, uses a tailor-made prosthesis, which doesn’t allow him to pursue his favourite sport.

The AGH Rapid Prototyping Student Research Club, established at the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Robotics, which deals with designing and prototyping incremental innovations, this time has taken up the challenge of developing a personalised foot prosthesis for a fellow student. To begin with, students will examine the pros and cons of selected materials that can be used to create a prosthesis. Additionally, they will analyse the strain field distribution and determine the spots that are the most vulnerable to deformation on both an able-bodied person’s foot and the prosthetic foot during indoor climbing. As a result, they plan to create a model of a 3D-printed prosthetic foot. The results of the project will certainly be useful to designers and creators of personalised prosthetic equipment. A long-term objective of the project is to create a foot prosthesis with better mechanical parameters that will be easy to put on and manufacture.

Kamil Warchoł, an AGH UST student who uses a foot prosthesis on a daily basis, explains: ‘Foot prosthetics has signifcantly developed over the last years. Using the right materials and, that’s quite recent, advanced electronic systems, has considerably improved the quality of life of people after amputations. Good-quality solutions are becoming more and more available and cheaper. Thanks to such highly functional prostheses, people with dysfunctions are no longer excluded from any form of activities, including sports. In some disciplines you can go with a regular prosthesis. However, there are others in which standard prostheses won’t do the job. I was very passionate about being able to do indoor climbing. I turned to my fellow students with my dilemma. I hope that with their help, I‘ll be able to climb, as my regular prosthesis is simply not enough’.

The project of the personalised foot prosthesis is also the subject of Kamil Warchoł’s engineering thesis.

On the right, a man on a climbing wall holding on to a climbing hold, photographed frontally.Kamil Warchoł, AGH UST, photo by Maciej Talar, KSAF AGH

One of the first challenges ahead of the Student Research Club, made up mostly of Biomedical and Mechatronic Engineering students, will be to investigate the mechanical parameters of materials that will be used to create a prototype of the foot. Anna Kopeć, the project leader, emphasises: ‘As a result of our investigation, we’d like to find out which of the tested materials perform best in terms of mechanical parameters, and whether they meet certain specified requirements for materials used in prosthetics’.

Subsequently, to recreate a model of a developed solution, the students will use a 3D scanner. Using this technology will allow them to capture the complicated geometry of the foot prosthesis, necessary for indoor climbing. The scanner will also save a considerable amount of time that otherwise would have to be spent designing the prosthesis from scratch. The specificity of use of a prosthesis intended for this sport requires personalisation.

‘In the next stage of the project, we will print the prosthesis. We plan to use at least three materials to create a prototype of the foot prosthesis in 3D-printing technology. The materials will be selected based on various price criteria to maximise their accessibility. We want to use relatively cheap materials with satisfactory mechanical properties. However, we will test more expensive and demanding materials that are currently used as substitutes for metal components, such as glass fibre-reinforced nylon’, Anna Kopeć specifies.

Using 3D scanning and printing, the results of the project can become an innovative solution for prosthetics, accelerate production processes, and simultaneously improve the quality of life of people with disabilities. Ultimately, the implementation of this project and its further development has the opportunity to play a vital role in the development of biomedical engineering. The foot prosthesis project is not the first effort by the members of AGH Rapid Prototyping to subscribe to the domain of biomedical engineering. Last year, its members implemented a grant that aimed to design and create impression trays and intranasal stents used to treat palate clefts in children.