Multidisciplinary team receives $4.6 million to advance prosthetic and orthotic design

Posted: October 13, 2023
Group of 6 headshots
Clockwise from top left: Matt Wernke, Heather Powell, Daniel Gallego-Perez, Jonathan Miller, Megan Malara, Nate Ames.

The Department of Health and Human Services has awarded $4,625,000 to a multi-disciplinary team comprised of prosthetic device manufacturer WillowWood and members of The Ohio State University and the University of Kansas. 

Funding is part of the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research's Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center Program on Prosthetics and Orthotics.  

Collectively working as the Innovative Design and Research for Enhancing Assistive Devices (IDEA) Center, the team of engineers, scientists, clinicians and consumers will advance prosthetic and orthotic design to maximize performance, comfort, health, and embodiment. The IDEA center will use a multi-faceted approach, pursuing projects that advance the device and the human to create synergistic advancements in tissue assessment, device design and the tissue’s ability to resist breakdown. 

Funding supports four projects over five years: comparing the effect of a data driven socket design technique on limb health compared to standard of care techniques; evaluating technology to adapt the skin to be more resilient to pressure; developing a force sensing interface for prosthetic and orthotic applications; and developing an adaptable interface system to accommodate changes in limb presentation. 

Training and dissemination of the IDEA Center’s activities will be tailored toward each level of the educational and clinical audiences including high school, undergraduate, graduate, clinical professionals and prosthesis and orthosis patients. Internship opportunities will be offered through the IDEA Center to provide individuals the opportunity to participate in the research, development activities and learn how to translate technologies into the commercial sector.  

The multi-disciplinary team working on this project include:

Co-Principal Investigators

Matt Wernke
Applied Research Engineer

Heather Powell
Department of Materials Science and Engineering
Department of Biomedical Engineering
The Ohio State University



Jonathan Miller
Online Applied Behavioral Science Program
Department of Applied Behavioral Science
University of Kansas

Daniel Gallego-Perez
Department of Biomedical Engineering
General Surgery
The Ohio State University

Megan Malara
Director, Medical Modeling, Materials, and Manufacturing (M4)
Center for Design and Manufacturing Excellence
The Ohio State University

Nate Ames
Executive Director
Center for Design and Manufacturing Excellence
The Ohio State University

The grant will continue until August 31, 2028.


Article adapted from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, September 21, 2023

Categories: ResearchAwards