Skip to content

Adaptive prosthetic ankles to improve user mobility, socket comfort and safety S&T52

  • School: School of Science and Technology
  • Study mode(s): Full-time / Part-time
  • Starting: 2022
  • Funding: UK student / EU student (non-UK) / International student (non-EU) / Fully-funded


NTU's Fully-funded PhD Studentship Scheme 2022

Limb loss is a life-changing event. A person with limb loss will face many physical, psychological and social challenges. Unfortunately, the number of people with limb loss worldwide is increasing. For example, the 1.6 million people with limb loss in the US in 2008, was predicted to double by 2050. In the UK, new referrals to prosthetics centres stand at around 6,000 annually, with many of these people being older (over 50) with other health comorbidities.

The prescription of a prosthetic limb is a key factor in a person’s long-term health outlook. The ability to use a prosthetic limb enables personal mobility, social engagement and physical activity, among other benefits. However, not all prosthetic limbs are made equal. Research has repeatedly shown that more advanced prosthetic ankle and knee devices, as well as more comfortable sockets, result in better mobility and health outcomes for the user. Prostheses that have the functionality to allow the users to perform the task they want to do, whilst also being comfortable to wear, are key in improving that person’s mobility, satisfaction and safety.

The current project will explore two aspects of prosthetic limb design. These are the functional characteristics of the ankle device and the attachment method of the prosthetic limb to the user. In terms of ankle device function, our research team has shown that hydraulically articulating ankle devices are superior to the more common but less functional rigid designs. This is the case in both controlled lab conditions and also in free-living environments. However, it is not clear whether adjusting the characteristics of ankle function may also enable prosthesis users to complete an increased number of and/or more challenging tasks. In addition, it is not clear how adjusting these adaptive ankle designs might affect the energy cost and/or safety e.g. trip risk, when performing everyday tasks. In terms of limb attachment to the prosthesis user, elevated vacuum suspensions have been shown to stabilise residual limb volume and reduce pressure. However, it is not clear if and how the advanced ankle functionality interacts with vacuum suspension, to improve mobility, socket comfort and safety for the user. Addressing this issue will be the central focus of the project. The outcomes of this project have the potential to inform prosthetic limb design and prescription, as well as improving the lives of people with limb loss.

School strategic research priority

The proposed project aligns with the previous and ongoing research activity within the Sport, Health and Performance Enhancement (SHAPE) Research Centre and the Medical Technologies and Advanced Materials theme.

Entry qualifications

For the eligibility criteria, visit our studentship application page.

How to apply

For guidance and to make an application, please visit our studentship application page. The application deadline is Friday 7 January 2022.

Fees and funding

This is part of NTU's 2022 fully-funded PhD Studentship Scheme.

Guidance and support

Download our full applicant guidance notes for more information.

Still need help?

+44 (0)115 941 8418