US-based prosthetic products provider WillowWood has unveiled its plans to establish a Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center (RERC) for Prosthetics and Orthotics.

The company will receive up to $5m from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR), over five years, for the RERC project.

The RERCs will serve as national centres of excellence for a specific area of rehabilitation.

The award brings WillowWood’s total funding to $13m, secured within the last two years.

As part of the project, WillowWood will partner with the Ohio State University, to work on Innovative Design and Research for Enhancing Assistive Devices (IDEA Centre).

The IDEA centre aims to advance clinical care through digitisation, and adaptation to positively impact patient health outcomes and overall performance.

Its core activity includes a robust education and dissemination program, which will help realise and sustain the advancements anticipated through the research.

WillowWood research and development director and IDEA Centre co-principal investigator Matt Wernke said: “The challenges for pairing a patient with their prosthesis or orthosis require multidisciplinary teams and multifaceted approaches to overcome.

“The RERC mechanism enables our team to partner with cross-functional experts to comprehensively transform the interface. We are grateful for this opportunity from NIDILRR.”

The Ohio State University professor and IDEA Center co-principal investigator Heather Powell said: “Our team has been building to this point for many years, and we are thankful to continue our research trajectories as well as explore novel ideas.”

Based in Mount Sterling, Ohio, WillowWood is a designer, manufacturer, and distributor of prosthetic products, including liners, feet, vacuum systems and components.

Its portfolio includes the Alpha family of liners, the Koa and Meta families of high-activity feet, the LimbLogic vacuum system, and the OMEGA CAD system.

The company said that it has been successfully collaborating with Ohio State University over the past 10 years, which resulted in the commercialisation of several products.

WillowWood chief operating officer Daniel Rubin said: “WillowWood remains focused on enabling the best clinical outcomes for patients, and this partnership with Ohio State University combined with the support from NIDILRR will help us continue to deliver a positive impact.

The Ohio State University College of Engineering dean Ayanna Howard said: “Ohio State’s partnership with WillowWood has flourished, from numerous research grant collaborations to their investment in experiential learning through student capstone projects and the Robert E. Arbogast Teaching Laboratory.”