Approximately 200 million Europeans suffer disabling foot and ankle pain and the prevalence is set to rise in an ageing society with increasing chronic long term conditions. Over €300 million per annum is spent across European health services treating many of these people with orthoses and splints. However 70% of these medical devices are made using traditional techniques relying on impressions casts, templates and hand fabrication. Personalised devices provide more effective outcomes in terms of symptom reduction, fit, comfort and aesthetics, but are more costly and time consuming to manufacture. Patient supply typically takes 28 days, the functional form of orthoses is difficult to verify, and repeat prescriptions can be inaccurate. Hand manufacturing using thermoplastics limit design choice and limits personalised function to simple parameters such as cushioning and range of motion. Innovation in the sector is limited and market competitiveness is weak. For both private and nationalised health care sectors reimbursement for orthotic treatment varies from country to country, making potentially available markets in Europe difficult to access.
To address the problems encountered by the foot and ankle orthotic industry, A-FOOTPRINT groups and coordinates research, analysis and pilot testing in 5 universities, 1 industrial organisation, and 6 SME’s across Europe.
The objectives of the projects are: