Based on a flexible, aerospace-grade composite material used for aircraft wings and fuselages, an innovative knee brace developed by a recent EmbryRiddle Aeronautical University graduate promises to improve orthopedic rehabilitation.
The key to the lightweight Ascend™ brace is Mike Geldart’s patent-pending Varying Radius Spring technology, which provides continuous assistance to the quadriceps and helps strengthen muscles.
Geldart, a mechanical engineering graduate, recently won first prize at the World Congress of Biomechanics in Ireland for his invention. The Ascend™ composite is a carbon fiber more flexible than a metal spring. When the wearer sits, mechanical energy is stored and released back into the leg when the wearer stands.
“When you reduce load on muscles, you reduce contact forces in the joints that are the primary cause of knee pain,” says Geldart, who designed his first prototype following a go-kart racing accident and knee surgery.
Twenty student athletes participated in a pilot study to test muscle activity. With the 3D printed brace, which was custom-made to each user, sensors measured a 30 percent increase in muscle activation, according to Geldart and fellow students Tyler Farnese and Walker Hobson. Christine Dailey, a Ph.D. candidate, is pursuing further validation.
Geldart, CEO of GRD Biomechanics, has won two $10,000 prizes — the Cairns Foundation Innovation Challenge and Embry-Riddle’s Launch Your Venture competition.