The medical technology company Ottobock has been a pioneer in developing groundbreaking fitting solutions for people with limited mobility for over a century. As a Human Empowerment Company, Ottobock strives to promote users’ freedom of movement, quality of life and independence. With more than 9,000 employees, the company focuses on innovations, technical solutions and world-class services to empower people in 135 countries to live the lives they want.

Interview with Dr. Bernhard Graimann, Vice President Global Research at Ottobock.

Easy Engineering: A brief description of the company and its activities.

Bernhard Graimann: As the global market leader in wearable human bionics, the company has continuously set new standards and helped drive digital transformation in the industry since its founding in 1919. These developments take place in close collaboration with our partners, the medical supply companies and international research institutions. We have also transferred our extensive expertise in the field of biomechanics to the development of exoskeletons for ergonomic workplaces since 2018.

The company’s global activities are centrally coordinated from our headquarters in Duderstadt, Germany, from where we pursue our mission. Since 1988, we have also been applying our technical expertise to support the Paralympic Games, connecting technology and sports.

E.E: What are the main areas of activity of the company? 

B.G: Ottobock’s main areas of activity encompass the development and production of prosthetics, integrated fitting solutions for patients with neurological diseases and promoting ergonomic workplaces through bionic exoskeletons. Ottobock also operates over 400 clinics around the world. The company works closely with medical professionals to restore people’s freedom of movement and improve their quality of life.

E.E: What’s the news about new products?

B.G: An innovation in our product range is the height-adjustable “Taleo Adjust” prosthetic foot, which has been available since July in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and North America. This innovative foot offers users more flexibility in day-to-day life, as it can be continuously adjusted from 0 to 7 cm. Thanks to this customization option, shoes can now be selected at will – whether it’s a sneaker, low shoe or even pumps. It can also be combined with the new Quickchange adapter. This allows the prosthetic components to be changed quickly and easily.

The height-adjustable “Taleo Adjust” prosthetic foot will be available worldwide starting in October 2023.

Dr Bernhard Graimann, Vice President Global Research at Ottobock.

E.E: What are the ranges of products?

B.G: Ottobock offers a wide range of products to support users and patients in various situations. Our portfolio includes mechanical and microprocessor-controlled knee joints, including the GeniumX3, C-Leg, Kenevo and the Dynion mechanical knee joint. We also offer prostheses for upper limbs such as the bebionic hand in combination with the Myo Plus prosthesis control with pattern recognition. This groundbreaking fitting solution with artificial intelligence enables intuitive hand movements.

NeuroMobility includes neuro-orthoses and wheelchairs. Examples are the Exopulse Mollii Suit: an electrode suit that can relieve spasticity with electrical impulses. The microprocessor-controlled C-Brace orthotic system supports people with incomplete paraplegia. Since many users also require a wheelchair, the Ottobock portfolio of wheelchairs is also integrated into this business unit.

Furthermore, we transferred our expertise in biomechanics from medical technology to industrial applications in 2018. With biomechanical exoskeletons such as the Ottobock Back or Ottobock Shoulder, we promote ergonomic workplaces by offering innovative solutions that boost comfort and efficiency by reducing musculoskeletal strain.

E.E: At what stage is the market where you are currently active?

B.G: The market for orthopaedic technology represented by companies such as Ottobock is experiencing continuous growth and development. Technological advances such as advanced materials and the integration of electronics improve the functionality of prostheses and orthoses, for example. Adaptation to individual needs using 3D printing and digital design is becoming more important. Lifestyle-oriented solutions for different activities as well as the integration of artificial intelligence are shaping the trend. Global access to orthopaedic technology products is increasing, while research and development ensures continuous innovation. The market remains dynamic due to factors such as technology, demographic change and health policy.

E.E: What can you tell us about market trends? 

B.G: To develop in line with needs, we focus on our users and patients and involve them in the development process. This results in requirements such as the “Taleo Adjust”. We see a clear growth market in the area of neurological diseases.

E.E: What are the most innovative products marketed?

B.G: The Exopulse Mollii Suit electrode suit is a particularly revolutionary innovation in the field of neuro-orthotics. The whole-body electrical stimulation suit, which optically resembles a neoprene suit, was developed for patients with spastic paralysis (i.e. increased internal tension of the muscles) and other neurological movement disorders.

By releasing spastic, cramped or painful muscles with gentle electrical pulses, the suit can reduce pain and reactivate key muscles. Many affected individuals show a smoother gait pattern thanks to the Exopulse Mollii Suit. They experience less pain and can lead a more active everyday life.

E.E: What estimations do you have for 2023?

B.G: After a positive start in the first half of 2023, Ottobock will continue to drive its growth. The company recorded growth in all regions and increased sales compared to the previous year. This success results from both the integration of the Patient Care network and groundbreaking product innovations. Ottobock will continue to rely on operational excellence, customer-oriented solutions and continuous innovation to consistently continue on its growth path.