RIC Limb Lengthener


Innovative Limb Lengthener

Posted By Tom Sharkey & Sheila Burt



Above-knee amputation represents 31% of lower-limb amputation in the military and 20% in the civilian population. Many of these people are young and use a prosthesis but rarely achieve normal gait velocity, stability, or cadence. People with short residual limbs often encounter additional problems in prosthesis fitting and wear as well as decreased stability and energy expenditure.

Limb lengthening can potentially improve outcomes for these patients, but the process is time-consuming and cumbersome, as it requires 4-16 percutaneous wires or pints that must be worn for a minimum of 3 days per millimeter of additional length. These devices may interfere with a person's ability to sleep, wear clothing, and also pose a significant risk of infection.

Our team of researchers and engineers at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab have developed an innovative residual limb lengthening device over an intramedullary nail that:

  • has only one distal percutaneous component
  • allows accurate control of lengthening
  • stabilizes the residual bone during consolidation, for earlier weight bearing

The device performed well in a series of experiment on cadaver specimens. We are now undergoing tests for FDA evaluation.



Kuiken TA, Butler BA, Sharkey T, Ivy AD, Li D, & Peabody TD. "Novel intramedullary device for lengthening transfemoral residual limbs." Journal of Orthopaedic Surgery and Research 12.1 (2017): 53.

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