The Seattle Foot

Introduced in 1985, the Seattle Foot aimed to make prosthetics more economically efficient, offer fewer component parts, less maintenance, and consistent response. The original anatomical molds resembled a real foot; however, a portion of amputees preferred the blank-foot. The Seattle Foot offers either aesthetic model along with a monolithic keel, which is a spring to improve running. The keel is made of a strong and lightweight material called Delrin. It is designed to make a more natural and suspended step, as compared to previous prosthetics. The foot improvements change the dynamic of the whole leg prosthetic device.[1]

The Seattle Foot’s design transformed prosthetic development mostly because of the effective energy-absorbing system. Prior to the invention, various designs featured metal springs or supple foam to absorb the weight of the amputee and the upward forces from the ground. The prosthetics using the simple energy-absorption were only effective for slow walking. The Seattle Foot became the first device that genuinely attempted to replicate the natural movement of the foot during various human gaits.[2]

Click here to read about the invention of the Seattle Foot.


[1] Burgess, Ernest M., and Donald L. Poggi. “Development and Preliminary Evaluation of the VA Seattle Foot.”Journal of Rehabilitation Research 22, (1985): 76-77.

[2] Deborah Illman, “The Seattle Foot,” A Century of Excellence in Science and Technology at the University of Washington, http://www.washington.edu/research/pathbreakers/1985a.html (accessed March 15, 2009).

Figure [1]: A. Bennett Wilson Jr., Limb Prosthetics, 6 ed. (New York: Domos Publications, 1989), 47.

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