It’s so much more than a foot. It’s your foundation.
The prosthetic foot makes everything else possible. Whether you‘re an above or below knee amputee, the quality and performance of your whole prosthesis will be impacted by the quality and performance of the prosthetic foot.
With a wide range of Ottobock prosthetic feet you can be sure that together with your Prosthetist you will find the one prosthetic foot fitting to your personal needs. Whether it is a foot made out of carbon or it is a microprocessor controlled foot – our whole portfolio is based on the same idea: building a foundation. We take our responsibility seriously. When choosing a prosthetic foot from Ottobock, you can be sure that each one is designed with passion, in compliance with highest quality standards and always with your needs in mind.
This is what you can rely on
With the widest range of prosthetic feet at Ottobock, you can be sure to find the one foot fitting to your personal needs. Whether it is a foot made out of carbon or it is a microprocessor controlled foot - our whole portfolio is based on the same idea: building a foundation. Find out about our different categories of feet.
For generations, Ottobock feet have helped define what’s possible with a lower limb prosthesis. With every step, our feet carry on the traditions of craftsmanship, invention and passion – that continue to set our products apart.
Our portfolio and (your role in) the fitting process
Each user is different and each user has different individual habits, preferences and goals. To meet your individual requirements and those of other users, it is not purposeful to provide one prosthetic foot for everyone but to have different prosthetic feet for different user needs. Our prosthetic feet cater to your requirements on an individual level.
Apart from giving you more insights into our prosthetic foot portfolio, we put together some useful information on selection criteria, prosthetic feet in general and FAQs for you. We believe the more knowledge you have of how your Prosthetist will choose the best foot for you, the more actively you can participate in your fitting. This will ensure you are both happy with the end result.
General information on prosthetic feet
Designing prosthetic foot systems is challenging. It’s very difficult to reproduce the complex workings of the human foot and ankle. Ideally the foot will be light because its weight is added to the rest of the prosthetic leg. If the foot is too heavy and the suspension of the prosthesis is not appropriate, the connection to the socket and your limb will be affected and also the overall function of the prosthesis.
A good prosthetic foot should also be strong, as it will be taking on large forces and torque as you walk and run. Feet must also be small enough to fit within a foot shell, a cosmetic covering for the prosthetic foot, and thus fit within a shoe. Being light, strong and small whilst still remaining functional and durable is the challenge.
Early designs for prosthetic feet were often a solid piece of wood. A similar design, the SACH (solid-ankle-cushioned-heel) is still in use because of its sturdy function. It is especially useful for individuals with lower activity levels. A SACH foot typically has a rigid inner structure (wood or plastic) surrounded by a compressible foam cosmetic shell.
Today’s more sophisticated feet add more functions and are secured inside a cosmetic shell. Most people never see their prosthetic foot without this exterior shell. The cosmetic shell stretches around the prosthetic foot and serves two purposes:
It makes your prosthetic foot look like an anatomical foot.
It fits snuggly in your shoe.
What’s inside the shell can vary dramatically. Prosthetic feet are designed to meet the needs of your lifestyle and activity level. Here are some factors to consider.
The materials in a prosthetic foot differ by activity level. Wood, plastic and foam are usually found in feet designed for individuals who have low activity levels and require stability. Lightweight carbon fibre feet meet the functional needs of active individuals since they are built for shock absorption and energy efficiency.
A prosthetic foot has to feel good for you to meet your activity goals. Comfort allows you to be more active and the function of your prosthetic foot directly affects comfort.
Prosthetic feet are designed to mimic a human foot at a specific activity level. For lower activity individuals, a prosthetic foot is designed to provide stability and balance. For those who are most active, a prosthetic foot must mimic the natural foot during the act of walking. It must act as a shock absorber as you strike your heel to the ground, adapt to uneven terrain, provide a smooth rollover from heel to toe, and provide a rigid lever for propelling forward when you finish your step (“toe-off”).
Some prosthetic feet are designed to mimic the ankle which allows the foot to move in multiple planes. Multi-axial capability in a foot allows the foot to absorb varying terrain by moving in all directions. These motions are forward to back, side to side and rotation around the ankle. Multi-axial motion is needed to walk comfortably and confidently on uneven ground where your foot must adapt to whatever it encounters.
A carbon fibre foot is able to store and return energy while walking and literally gives you a spring in your step. The carbon fibre acts as a spring which compresses as you apply weight and then propels you forward as you roll off the toe of the foot when the energy is returned. Some prosthetic feet have one spring in the heel and a second spring in the forefoot: just what you need for walking at different speeds, running, climbing hills or descending stairs with a secure, confident stride. With carbon fibre, the longer the spring, the more energy it can store and the more responsive the foot will be.
How you and your Prosthetist select the right prosthetic foot for you
Choosing a prosthetic foot that best suits your personal requirements, needs and goals is a complex task. Your Prosthetist is an expert in this field. Thanks to his education, experience and biomechanical knowledge, he will choose the prosthetic foot that helps achieve the best possible fitting outcome for you individually. The information provided in this section only serves as a guidance. Please contact your Prosthetist if you have more detailed questions.
Your level of amputation will be one of the first things that needs to be looked at when choosing the components in a prosthesis. An above knee amputation requires a prosthetic knee joint and the type of knee joint will help to define the appropriate prosthetic foot. This is where your Prosthetist will assess the functions of the prosthetic knee joint and recommend an appropriate prosthetic foot. Because the natural knee joint is intact after a below knee amputation, your Prosthetist will consider factors like length of the residual limb, strength and range of motion when recommending an appropriate prosthetic foot.
Manufacturers categorise prosthetic feet by the user’s activity level – also called mobility grade. This means that not every prosthetic foot can be used by every user. Selecting a prosthesis that matches your activity level will maximise your mobility and your quality of life. Here are some very basic indications for identifying your activity level. If you are on the border between two activity levels, your Prosthetist will consider multiple products to assess the one that is best for you.
Activity Level 1
The amputee has the ability or the potential to use the prosthesis for transfers or for the purpose of moving slowly on level floors. The amount of time and the distance the amputee can walk are seriously limited due to his or her condition.
Restoring the ability to stand and to walk indoors to a limited degree.
Prosthetic feet are designed for a specific weight range. To ensure that a prosthetic foot performs well for you, your Prosthetist will choose one suited to your weight class.
Prosthetic feet vary in height. We call the height of a prosthetic foot build height. Your height and the length of your residual limb as a below knee amputee will determine the space you have for a prosthetic foot and what is the appropriate build height for the prosthetic foot. As an above knee amputee, the length of the prosthetic knee joint will be an additional factor to consider for the build height of the prosthetic foot.
Like human feet, prosthetic feet differ in length/size. Prosthetic feet are sized by cm rather than standard shoe sizes. Every foot is available in a specific range of sizes. There are prosthetic feet that come in sizes for children while others are even sized for large adults. Ottobock running blades and speciality sports feet often have a a single size.
Apart from all the technical selection criteria, your Prosthetist will keep in mind your personal needs, living situation and goals when choosing a prosthetic foot for you. These factors might be the desire to participate in sports activities or the ability to paint your toenails. These are of great importance because your prosthetic foot should feel like an extension of yourself.