“More like a natural ankle:” Happy Valley-born prosthetics poised to change future after limb loss

June 21, 2022

By Cara Aungst

Impulse Technology’s biomimetic ankle closely mimics natural movement, making walking less painful and more accessible over rough terrain. PHOTO: Impulse Technology

More than 50% of people with lower limb amputation have short and long-term pain associated with their prosthesis. Innovation Park-based company Impulse Technology aims to solve that — literal — pain point with its biomimetic prosthetic ankle, the Goralign PSA. Over the past year, the company has completed clinical evaluation and industry-standard mechanical durability testing, and received Medicare reimbursement approval for the prosthetic. Here’s what’s next for the commercial market breakthrough, and how it will unlock a new world of less painful mobility for people with lower limb loss.

How it’s different

“The Goralign PSA adapts to gait and terrain changes in real-time,” Impulse Technology’s CEO and cofounder Dr. Kamrun Nahar said. “Lower-limb amputees can turn and twist their legs with ease without the complexities of sensors, actuators and batteries.”

Based upon customer feedback, the newest iteration has enhanced shock-absorbing capabilities, making it even more intuitive and comfortable.

“It’s very satisfying and inspiring to see how technology development can help people with limb-loss do all the things they would like to live a normal life, and be able to enjoy all the activities they could not do without all these products.”

“One lower limb amputee who adopted the Goralign PSA ankle prosthesis product commented that the Goralign PSA ankle felt more ‘fluid’ and that it was more like ‘a natural ankle,’” Dr. Nahar said. “He said that walking on a mulch path and over a tree root was something he would not have felt safe doing without the Goralign PSA. This was very exciting for us to hear from him!”

“Creating better solutions for patients with limb-loss”

Now that clinical testing is finished, the next step is reaching people with limb loss. Impulse Technology said educating prosthetic clinicians is a huge part of that, along with reaching nonprofit and for-profit prosthetic organizations.

Photo provided by Impulse Technology.

Dr. Nahar said she looks forward to showing people with limb loss how the biomimetic ankle can be a game changer. “It’s very satisfying and inspiring to see how technology development can help people with limb-loss do all the things they would like to live a normal life, and be able to enjoy all the activities they could not do without all these products.”

Happy Valley-based resources help launch

Ben Franklin Technology Partners has been instrumental in Impulse Technology’s progress since the startup’s beginnings.

“In addition to entrepreneurial certifications from TechCelerator @StateCollege, Ben Franklin has also helped Impulse with needs in bookkeeping, payroll and human resource-related activities, as well as market research help from Ben Franklin’s expert market research group,” said Dr. Nahar.

The company also benefited from seed funding since 2014, and Dr. Nahar said Ben Franklin is by the company’s side as it moves into commercialization, helping with marketing strategy, sales personnel recruitment and promotion.

“We are grateful to all the different resources we have received from the Happy Valley [and] Penn State ecosystem that keep us on our path towards reaching our business goals.” 

Dr. Nahar said the Happy Valley ecosystem has been vital in helping to reach commercialization, noting, “Whether it is real estate (office, lab space rental), legal needs, pandemic support or product export information, Impulse Technology sought and received business development help and support at different times from different business support systems in the Happy Valley/Penn State ecosystem — Invent Penn State, Penn State Office of Entrepreneurship & Commercialization, Penn State SBDC, PennTAP, Happy Valley LaunchBox, and Penn State IP and Law Clinics; all of which contributed to Impulse Technology’s business needs at different times and continue to do so as we approach them for support.”

“There are many challenges in starting up a company with an innovative idea and taking a product to market,” she said. “It is a journey that has taught us many useful lessons in starting and running a company, developing a product and taking it to the market. We are grateful to all the different resources we have received from the Happy Valley [and] Penn State ecosystem that keep us on our path towards reaching our business goals.”

Cara Aungst writes about industry, innovation and how Happy Valley ideas change the world. She can be reached with story ideas and comments at Cara@AffinityConnection.com

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