Friday, 04. August 2017
Innovative strength: Ottobock's main driving force
20th birthday for Ottobock's C-Leg
Unwavering innovative strength and the courage to turn innovative ideas into reality are driving forces that have made Ottobock what it is today – a globally positioned family company and world market leader in technical orthopaedics. The latest expansion of the company’s portfolio to include the only active prosthetic foot available on the global market, the Empower Ankle, as well as the bebionic multi-articulated hand prosthesis underscores Ottobock’s innovative strength and its determination to continue on its path of successful growth.
The fact that such developments aren’t just part of the company today is evidenced by a glimpse back into its history: 20 years ago, in 1997, Ottobock introduced the C-Leg at the world’s leading trade show in Nuremberg. It was the first computer-controlled prosthetic knee in the world at the time. Integrated sensors continuously measured the user’s current gait phase, allowing the C-Leg to respond to a wide variety of everyday situations intelligently and in real time. It enabled people with lower limb amputations to descend stairs step-over-step and walk on slopes, thereby giving them a nearly natural gait – a milestone in prosthetics. Canadian engineer Kelly James had already presented a prototype of the C-Leg at the Global Congress of the International Society for Prosthetics & Orthotics (ISPO) in Chicago in 1992. The Head of Ottobock, Professor Hans Georg Näder, recognised the incredible potential of this pioneering development while the congress was still in progress and concluded an exclusive agreement – it took Ottobock’s engineers a further five years of development work to prepare the innovative product for the market.
Meanwhile, the fourth generation of this innovative knee prosthesis, the C-Leg 4, is now on the market. In addition to various technical upgrades and investments in even greater safety, the C-Leg 4 today is supplemented by a modern app so that users can conveniently adjust the functions of their prosthesis via smartphone. The C-Leg technology also serves as the basis for a wide range of other product developments at Ottobock. Based on the goal of providing highly customised devices to users who place extremely varied demands on their prosthesis, the Genium, Genium X3 and Kenevo electronically controlled knee prostheses have now expanded the portfolio. “My grandfather, Otto Bock, and my father, Dr Max Näder, already laid the foundation for Ottobock’s transformation from a start-up with roots in Berlin into a global company thanks to their entrepreneurial spirit,” says Professor Hans Georg Näder, President of Otto Bock Holding GmbH & Co. KG and the third generation of the family to lead the company. “I was convinced by the innovative strength of the C-Leg technology 20 years ago and this product’s long success story has confirmed my vision: It has enabled us to further expand on and strengthen our position as the world market leader in technical orthopaedics over the years. I am certain that the coming years will also show that our current investments have ideally positioned us for the future.”