Modern prostheses have allowed amputees to run again and even compete in Olympic events. However, they generally cost too much for non-professionals.
Now there is a prosthetic leg built for everyday exercise and sports. The Danish start-up Levitate recently created two models of prosthesis that are both easy to use and affordable.
Modern prosthetic legs cost around 12.000 – 14.000 euros per leg as a lump sum. Levitate’s model allows people to pay monthly, meaning amputees who want to lead a more active lifestyle have that opportunity. They also offer their prosthesis for a fraction of the normal price – each leg costs roughly 1600 euros.
Levitate founder Lasse W. Madsen founded the company in collaboration with the Technical University of Denmark (DTU). Madsen lost his right leg when he was only 14 and began the company in 2019. In 2020, he made the Forbes ’30 under 30’ list.
“I believe that if you have a good idea, will, and drive, you can get things done,” says Madsen. “The combination of the knowledge and experience that I’ve accumulated during my studies and my work has meant that I dared take the plunge without knowing what the outcome would be.”
Built with composites
Levitate has two models – the J-shape and the C-shape prosthesis – which are built for either long-distance running or sprinting. They are a ‘plug and play’ in that they can easily attach to a prosthetic sleave.
The prostheses are made with a composite material designed at DTU. Madsen, a former DTU graduate, started his company in the DTU incubator and created his products therein.
“With the help of a smart design and advanced mathematics, we’ve succeeded in developing a competitive alternative to other prostheses, at a fraction of the price,” says Malte Markussen, Development Engineer at DTU Wind Energy.
Tested for marathons
Lasse and other leg amputees have run with the prosthetic the legs over thousands of kilometres so far. They tested the prostheses for marathon running on a machine. Today, they are being used by first customers around the world in sports ranging from basketball, soccer, and the running track.
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