Pilot studies suggesting new applications of NiTi in dynamic orthoses for the ankle joint

Simone Pittaccio, Stefano Viscuso, Elena Beretta, Anna Carla Turconi, Sandra Strazzer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


NiTi is a metal alloy with unconventional functional characteristics: Shape memory and pseudoelasticity. Its use in the field of rehabilitation is very innovative. This work presents applications in lower limb orthotics. Three different devices were assembled and tested: An equinus gait dynamic splint, a compliant ankle positioning brace, and a dual-mode haptic/active exerciser for the dorsiflexors. Results are derived from technical and preclinical trials. The gait splint improves several walking parameters even better than a traditional flexible ankle-foot orthoses (AFO). In particular, it supports mid-stance and propulsion biomechanics and affects physiological activation of tibialis anterior during swing much less than posterior leaf AFO. The haptic/active exerciser, able to provide dorsiflexion through a suitable articular range, could be controlled on the basis of minimal surface electromyographic (sEMG) signals, suggesting its use as an aid for early active workouts as soon as patients start to recover voluntary control of tibialis anterior. Further evidence must be sought in future to confirm for the ankle joint the promising results obtained in repositioning applications in prior upper limb studies. The work done so far on the tested prototypes is encouraging: Material characteristics and dimensioning will be optimized so that customized NiTi devices can be prescribed to best meet individual patients' requirements.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)305-318
Number of pages14
JournalProsthetics and Orthotics International
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2010


  • lower limb
  • Nitinol
  • pseudoelasticity
  • rehabilitation
  • shape memory alloy
  • splint

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Health Professions (miscellaneous)


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