Shoe design to reduce osteoarthritis in the knee joint

By the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences

Researchers have created a new shoe design to combat osteoarthritis of the knee. By partnering with ASICS, this technology is alleviating the pain of millions of sufferers.

The technology

Osteoarthritis of the knee is one of the most significant problems of modern society, and it’s not just limited to athletes. One in two people experiencing it by the time they turn fifty. Knee osteoarthritis effects a person’s development and morbidity of other major health issues due to the reduced mobility of the sufferer. Reduced mobility means a reduced ability to stay active, and this in turn has implications for diabetes, obesity, hypertension and cardiovascular disease.

A team of physiotherapists from the Centre for Health, Exercise and Sports Medicine (CHESM) at the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences, including Dr Rana Hinman, Timothy Wrigley, and led by Professor Kim Bennell, have developed the concept of new shoe design to combat osteoarthritis, while also researching the casual factors of joint loading and medial compartment osteoarthritis in the knee.

The partnership

ASICS Oceania is a subsidiary of the global sporting goods giant ASICS, and shares its parent companies ethos of ‘Anima Sana In Corpore Sano’, meaning a ‘sound mind in a sound body’. Having net sales totalling AU$2.8 billion for the 2009 financial year, and having a brand synonymous with innovation and excellence in running shoes, ASICS was the logical choice for the University to partner with for development and commercialisation of the osteoarthritis shoe technology.

The outcome

The University of Melbourne researchers approached ASICS for support to develop, test and validate their shoe design. The decision to approach ASICS was an easy one for the University, with ASICS being a valuable industry partner having previously supported several research projects within the University.

With support from University of Melbourne Commercial, the partnership between the University and ASICS was tailored to maximise the benefits of the Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage Grant scheme, thus leveraging funding support for development of commercial technologies from the Australian government.

ASICS contributed the know-how and capability to manufacture the shoe, the cumulative result being an innovative shoe that could lessen the pain of knee osteoarthritis for millions of sufferers.

Under the terms of the arrangement with ASICS, the University received research funding and is entitled to royalty payments based on the number of shoes manufactured.


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