A team of Johns Hopkins University students, working with a physician and prosthetic experts, has developed Prominence, the first prosthetic foot that can wear shoes with heels up to 10 cm high. Most of the prosthetic feet available today are built to fit men’s shoes and none can adjust to a heel height of more than 5 cm, explained the students on the Johns Hopkins website.
But the challenge was daunting, and it took two semesters of work to solve the problem. After many tests with both machines and people, they came up with a heel-adjustment mechanism that uses two interlocking aluminum disks that open and close via a lever at the ankle. For the ankle, they used an off-the-shelf hydraulic unit that enables a smooth gait and flexing at the sole, they explained.
Using four types of women’s shoes, the team tested the foot on seven people. Still a work in progress, the unit requires more experimentation and testing before becoming commercially available.