UAlberta Research in Your Life

The C-Leg:
Helping amputees walk safer, easier and more naturally

Losing a leg is not only traumatic but also profoundly changes your life, and the everyday activities taken for granted, like walking and riding a bike. While an artificial leg can help you walk again, using a traditional prosthesis can be a stiff, labored and difficult process, and not support some activities like bike riding.

One of world’s 1st ‘bionic’ legs
UAlberta researchers Kelly James and Richard Stein helped change that with the C-Leg®--the world’s first fully microprocessor-controlled knee that functions like a real knee. This ‘bionic’ leg has transformed how amputees walk by adapting to their movement in real-time, making walking easier, safer and more natural than using a traditional prosthesis. The C-Leg even lets people walk backwards and down stairs, and play sports or ride a bike--not easy tasks for an amputee.

Ahead of its time
The C-Leg uses an intelligent sensor chip to detect where the limb is in space and makes precise adjustments at every moment of every step. The result is a smooth step. When created in the early 90s, the C-Leg was ahead of its time; microprocessors and computers were not commonplace. When UAberta spin-off company BioMech Designs took it to market so people could actually use it, they had trouble selling it—until German prosthetics company Otto Bock saw it. They saw the potential and bought the rights.

Still an industry leader
Today, 20 years later, the C-Leg is still an industry leader. Since its creation, it has helped over 70,000 people around the world, walk better, easier, safer and more naturally.