Design of Mechanism for a Low-Cost, Completely Passive Prosthetic Knee for Users with Above-Knee Amputation

Technology #17907

Questions about this technology? Ask a Technology Manager

Download Printable PDF

Image Gallery
Operation of the mechanism through the mid-stance, late stance and swing phases. (a) shows the unlocking of the latch due to extension moment about the locking axis during mid-stance. As the GRF vector passes posterior to the knee axis (b), the Iower leg assembly flexes about the knee axis. During swing, the spring-bias keeps the latch (part 3) ready for locking at full extension.Differential Damping System-exploded view and cross sectional view of the mechanism. (Bottom) The dampers carry radially spaced break pads, inner and outer diameters are labeled.
Professor Amos Winter
Department of Mechanical Engineering, MIT
External Link (
Daniel Dorsch
Department of Mechanical Engineering, MIT
Venkata Arelekatti
Department of Mechanical Engineering, MIT
Managed By
Ben Rockney
MIT Technology Licensing Officer
Patent Protection

Design of Mechanism for a Low-Cost, Completely Passive Prosthetic Knee for Users with Above-Knee Amputation

PCT Patent Application Filed
The Effects of Prosthesis Inertial Properties on Prosthetic Knee Moment and Hip Energetics Required to Achieve Able-bodied Kinematics.
IEEE Transactions on Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering , July 13, 2015 , Issue 99
Design of a fully passive prosthetic knee mechanism for transfemoral amputees in India
2015 IEEE International Conference on Rehabilitation Robotics (ICORR), Aug. 11-14, 2015,


This passive device is a prosthetic for above-knee amputees and is especially suited for developing countries with limited availability of advanced medical care. 

Problem Addressed

There are an estimated 30 million people worldwide in need of prosthetics and orthotic devices. According to the World Health Organization, 90-95% of amputees in developing countries do not have access to prosthetics largely due to high cost. In India alone, there are approximately 230,000 transfemoral amputees. Most currently distributed above-knee prostheses are inexpensive passive devices that hinder a normative gait and incur frequent mechanical failure. This technology is a low-cost, fully passive prosthetic knee design that closely mimics able-bodied kinematics ideally suited for above-knee amputees in developing countries. 


Optimal mechanical components were designed using biomechanical modeling and inverse dynamics analysis. The prosthetic knee includes a linear spring and friction dampers that engage and disengage at optimal times in the gait cycle to provide able-bodied kinematics with minimal patient energy expenditure.  The spring and damping system provide early stance flexion-extension and late stance and swing control respectively. The design has an automatic early stance lock for stability.  The spring stiffness and damper friction may be adjusted for patient and device weight.  A small user trial showed a smooth transition from stance to swing and easy usability of the prosthetic. This invention is a passive prosthetic knee design that is low cost with improvements over current devices that could allow large scale manufacturing for widespread use in developing countries.


  • Requires minimal patient energy expenditure
  • Passive and low cost
  • Allows patients to walk with a normative gait