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Prosthetics

One step ahead with Austrian components

Despite all the advances in medical science, there are still occasions when it is necessary to amputate limbs due to accidents or disease. Ottobock, the world leader in prosthetics development and manufacture, has a network of sales and services offices in 44 countries around the world. Their mission is to restore an individual’s quality of life through the development and manufacture of high-tech devices that re-establish people’s mobility.

Contents

  1. Ottobock – an Austrian success story
    1. A multitude of high quality suppliers
    2. TMR prosthetic arm

Ottobock – an Austrian success story


Austria is one of the most important Ottobock locations with 480 employees, of whom a third are working in R&D. This site was responsible for the development of the C-Leg®, a microprocessor-controlled prosthesis, allowing users to perform near-perfect leg movements that resemble as closely as possible the natural gait. A milestone in the fitting of amputees, it allows individuals to walk naturally and even to participate in active sports like rollerblading, cycling or cross-country skiing. The latest innovation in lower limb prosthetics is “Genium®”, the next generation prosthesis based on the experience with the C-Leg® that provides even more functions and higher performance. Both prostheses are manufactured at the Ottobock branch in Vienna. As high precision devices with state-of-the-art microprocessors, they demand a multitude of precise components manufactured using carbon, silicone, high-alloy steels, high-tensile aluminium and titanium as well as specialized coatings and finishes.

A multitude of high quality suppliers


Such complexity requires access to and availability from first rate suppliers. Of the several hundred worldwide suppliers, that Ottobock has come to trust and rely on, over 50% are located within Austria. The size, location, infrastructure and excellent transport networks within Austria also contribute significantly towards the speed with which Ottobock can receive key components from all its suppliers.

The hydraulic system is an essential component of C-Leg® and Genium which directly affects the function of the prosthetic leg. The relatively small scale of the individual components must meet a high level of dimensional accuracy, shape and position tolerances and surface requirements.

The individual parts for this system are supplied by the Austrian companies Wild, MKE and Anton Paar ShapeTec. These outstanding manufacturers are able to perform delicate machining operations for even the smallest components. Burr-free machining of high-precision components is vital for ensuring a trouble-free function. Circuit boards used for the electronic components in Ottobock’s prostheses are produced by the Austrian company PIU-Printex.

TMR prosthetic arm


Another revolutionary new product, the TMR prosthetic arm, was developed at Ottobock’s Austrian subsidiary in cooperation with both the Medical University of Vienna and Vienna General Hospital, one of the largest hospitals in Europe and a leader in the field of neuro-muscular reconstruction.

This novel prosthesis represents an enormous advance in prosthetics as it can be specifically controlled by those nerves which were originally responsible for controlling arm and hand movement. Even though the natural arm no longer exists, the user can move the prosthesis according to his intent by evoking arm and hand movement patterns still present in his memory. Prof. Dr. Manfred Frey and Prof. Dr. Oskar Aszmann performed the complex nerve transfer surgery for the first time outside the USA where the technique was pioneered. This surgery creates the biological basis for the control of the TMR prosthetic arm by transferring the remaining arm nerves into the muscles of the chest.

The TMR prosthesis enables the user to make more natural movements because the joints can be controlled intuitively and simultaneously as opposed to the one-at-a-time movements associated with standard prostheses.

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