Orthocare Innovations expects to market a high-tech prosthetic device that more closely mimics the human ankle by year's end, the CEO of the Oklahoma City-based company said Tuesday.
“We want to have it out in the marketplace in the fourth quarter,” said Doug McCormack, CEO and co-founder of Orthocare Innovations. “We've very close to commercial launch.”
The firm is updating its manufacturing facilities at the Presbyterian Health Foundation Research Park to produce the device called Magellan, Chief Operating Officer Dave Adams said.
The next-generation device includes a microprocessor, sensors and hydraulics that allow users to make adjustments and monitor the device with a smartphone.
The Magellan also adapts to different conditions, such as when the wearer walks from a level surface to an incline, Adams said.
With current foot-and-ankle prosthetics, users must adjust to changes in terrain or conditions, Adams said. Orthocare's device is designed to accommodate changes automatically, he said.
“He can stop thinking about it. He trusts his gait more,” Adams said. “It feels more natural, more lifelike.”
With a smartphone app, users can adjust the prosthetic, for instance, when they change shoes. Switching from a running shoe to a dress shoe generally requires changing feet to adapt to a taller heel, Adams said.
“Rather than having multiple feet for everything from a cowboy boot to a running shoe, they can take control and have the device adjust itself,” he said.
Perhaps most importantly, the new technology can provide performance data via the smartphone app, much like hooking up a vehicle to an auto diagnostic machine to determine how it's running, McCormack said.
“That information always has been communicated subjectively — How do you feel? What's bothering you?” McCormack said.
The technology also makes it easy to check battery life, a process that now often requires removing and disassembling a prosthesis.
“There are times you want to know when your ankle's about to die,” he said.
About a dozen people are beta testing the Magellan, some for up to six months, Adams said.
Testers have been positive about the device, particularly liking the ability to make adjustments easily, he said.
The company also received more requests from people who want to be involved in the testing process after the product was mentioned in a Wall Street Journal story this week.
“Those are all just very, very positive signs for us,” Adams said.
McCormack said agreements have been reached for Medicare and insurance providers to cover some of the cost of the device, with Medicare agreeing to cover about $15,000.
“Our goal is not to create more expensive devices, but to bring a high-technology application to the majority of the people,” he said.