Inventing a better prosthetic Inventing a better prostheticPublished: Tuesday, December 15, 2020 By: Heide Brandes Source: The Journal Record
Jay Martin, founder of Martin Bionics of Oklahoma City, used his knowledge of robotics and his experience working on “Iron Man” suits for NASA to create what he calls a quality-of-life changer for amputees.
He developed a socket for prosthetics that molds to a limb better, reduces the discomfort and pain, and gives amputees hope for a better quality of life than they’ve been used to. His invention, called the Socket-less Socket, was recognized this fall by Time Magazine’s Best Inventions of 2020.
The Socket-less Socket replaces the molded plastic fittings of more standard prostheses that are often rigid and uncomfortable with a custom set of straps and bindings that can be tightened or loosened as needed.
“It’s the difference between wooden clogs and a really nice set of sneakers,” says Martin Bionics founder Jay Martin.
In the past, most sockets had to be adjusted or removed every hour or so to address chafing, sweating or jabbing. The Socket-less Socket can remain on comfortably for more than three hours and fits onto the body in a more organic way.
“So conventional prosthetics are probably not too far off from the analogy of if everyone was wearing wooden shoes. Then someone came out with a pair of Nikes or Adidas, and that’s like our technology,” said Martin. “We really have a game-changer technology.”
Martin was a clinical practitioner by trade, and early on, he found that his patients’ functional abilities were limited not as much by their amputation as by the lack of technology in the industry.
“So many of my patients were really quite limited in what they were able to do. The public perception is that prosthetics are incredibly advanced, but in reality, most amputees are limited by conventional prosthetics that are very uncomfortable. The technology just isn’t where it should be.”
Noting how patients’ functional abilities and quality of life were limited by the lack of technology, Martin worked on advanced artificial intelligence control systems and robotic devices for prosthetics. He created the first computer-controlled real-time control systems for a robotic prosthetic ankle and other projects.
“I found that the socket interface part of the prosthetic that the human body fits into is by far the most limiting factor on the quality of life,” Martin said.
“You can have a very advanced robotic system attached to an uncomfortable socket and the patient won’t want to wear it. So, comfort really matters.”
Martin founded Martin Bionics in 2003 to develop computer-controlled robotic devices. He sold the company in 2007. In late 2009, Martin reformed the company before working