The Blatchford Elan Foot is another worthy competitor in the bionic foot/ankle market, allowing users to achieve a smooth gait on many different types of terrain. However, it is not waterproof and lacks the type of user software offered by some of its competitors.
What’s On This Page?
- A Quick Look at the Elan Foot
- Ankle Range of Motion (ROM)
- Ankle Accommodation
- Electric Propulsion
- Sensor and Microprocessor Capabilities
- Water and Dust Resistance
- Device Weight & User Weight Limit
- K-Level Rating
- User Software
- Compatibility with Bionic Knees
- Clinical Insights
- Customer Reviews
- User Feedback Survey & Results
- Considerations Before Buying an Elan Foot
- Related Information
A Quick Look at the Elan Foot
The following video provides a good overview of the Elan Foot. Ignore the reference to the Endolite brand name, which is a Blatchford subsidiary.
As is the case with all bionic foot/ankle systems, we’re deeply impressed with this technology. It is increasingly difficult to distinguish a natural gait from the gait of someone using this type of system.
Elan Foot’s Key Features
Ankle Range of Motion (ROM)
The reported ankle ROM for the Elan Foot is only 9 degrees, which is the lowest of all bionic foot/ankle systems.
However, this is not the total ROM, as the foot’s flexibility is also a factor. Nor is it the Elan’s focus, which is mainly managing dorsiflexion and plantar flexion resistance.
We have asked Blatchford about the differences in ROM between the different bionic feet/ankles but they have not responded. This may be a good point of discussion with your prosthetist about how the different foot/ankle systems adjust to various terrains.
The Elan Foot is the only bionic foot/ankle system to use both within-step and inter-step ankle accommodation strategies.
Within-step systems adjust the angle and resistance of the ankle to match the terrain during the Stance Phase of each step. Inter-step systems make their adjustments during the Swing Phase, i.e. between steps.
The disadvantage of using an inter-step strategy alone is that it takes several steps before the system adjusts to changing terrain.
Because the Elan Foot already uses a within-step strategy and it already maintains dorsiflexion during the Swing Phase to improve toe clearance (i.e. it keeps the toes pointed up), we’re not sure why it also uses an inter-step strategy. We have submitted this question to Blatchford but they have so far declined to answer.
The Elan Foot does not augment push-off with electric power but it does optimize energy storage and reuse through its carbon fiber foot.
The only bionic foot/ankle currently on the market that enhances push-off with electric power is Ottobock’s Empower model.
Sensor and Microprocessor Capabilities
Blatchford does not disclose details about the Elan Foot’s sensors and microprocessor(s).
All we know is that the Elan Foot uses a “network of sensors” to continuously monitor the user’s position and movement. We suspect that this includes accelerometer and gyroscope data, and have asked Blatchford for clarification but they have declined to respond.
We normally put significant effort into describing the benefits of a foot/ankle’s microprocessor capabilities but, in this case, Blatchford has created some excellent diagrams of its own (source: https://www.blatchfordus.com/products/elan/):
Note Blatchford’s emphasis on the level of resistance applied to both dorsiflexion and plantar flexion in these diagrams. The ankle’s angle of rotation is mentioned only for clearance during the Swing Phase.
The broader benefits of the Elan Foot’s microprocessor system are:
- improved shock absorption;
- improved balance and stability;
- reduced socket stress;
- reduced compensatory demands on other joints and the back;
- better load distribution between two legs;
- a smoother, more natural gait;
- faster maximum walking speed;
- reduced energy requirements.
In other words, not only does it improve the daily lives of users regarding comfort, capabilities, and energy conservation — it also reduces long-term body wear-and-tear.
The independent data we have from August 2018 states that the Elan Foot’s battery life is 27 hours. However, in its most recent advertising material, Blatchford states that battery life has now been extended to two days.
Water and Dust Resistance
The Elan Foot is listed as being only water-resistant, not waterproof. This means that, unlike its sister product, the Elan IC, and Proteor USA’s Freedom Kinnex model, the Elan cannot be submerged in water.
The Elan is approved for outdoor use so it is presumably dust resistant. However, its official IP rating is not listed.
Device Weight & User Weight Limit
According to our independent data from August 2018, the Elan Foot weighs 1200 grams. It is listed in Blatchford’s advertising material as 925 grams. The difference is likely due to the foot size being weighed.
Regardless, the Elan is the second lightest bionic foot/ankle system after Fillauer’s Raize model.
The maximum user weight for the Elan is 125 kilograms.
The Elan Foot is rated for low-to-moderate-impact K3 use. It is not intended for high-impact sports, such as running, basketball, etc.
For a thorough understanding of K-levels, please see the Amputee Coalition’s web page on this topic.
We are unable to find end-user software for the Elan Foot, though there is software for clinicians to configure the foot.
Consequently, it appears that users are unable to create different settings for different shoes or to exert any personal control over ankle stiffness settings. This suggests that the Elan can only be configured for one heel height and that users must visit their prosthetist’s office to change this. We have asked Blatchford to verify this point but they have not responded.
According to our information from individual users, the Elan Foot sells for between $15,000 to $20,000 US inclusive of all prosthetist fees.
To see how the price of the Elan compares to its competitors, please see our Bionic Foot Price List.
Compatibility With Bionic Knees
The Elan Foot is fully compatible with Blatchford’s Orion Knee.
Blatchford does not explicitly list any other microprocessor knees as being compatible with the Elan. However, their warranty does not specifically exclude pairing the Elan with a non-Blatchford microprocessor knee. You should therefore ask your prosthetist for clarification.
The following comments are from clinicians with extensive experience with the Elan Foot:
The Elan microprocessor foot does not sport any additional motors for propulsion or active toe-off. However, its management of hydraulic resistance improves ankle motion and allows the amputee to use their musculature more naturally while going up and down slopes. Since it doesn’t have additional motors or the large battery needed to power them, it is about 2 pounds lighter than the only MPF with powered propulsion, and about 20 % lighter than most of the other MPFs in its class. This may not seem like much but weight can be a significant factor in user satisfaction. The Elan is a good, reliable MPF, but it is not the right choice for high-impact activities. A patient can certainly go for hikes across uneven terrain. However, running and jumping are not ideal activities for this foot. It is also a poor choice if the patient is going to be in or around water. In that case, we’d recommend the Elan IC, which can be submerged in up to 3 feet of water for as much as 30 minutes. As always, it’s extremely important to identify the patient’s goals and ambitions as part of the device selection process.
Abe Ellithy, Bionic Prosthetics and Orthotics Group
San Antonio, Texas
Occasionally, we run across high-quality customer reviews that we think should be shared. Here are the reviews that we’ve found for the Elan Foot:
User Feedback Survey & Results
Are you or have you previously been an Elan Foot user? If so, please share your insights with others looking at the Elan as a possible prosthesis.
We do not yet have a sufficient number of survey participants to publish fair and accurate results for the Elan Foot.
As soon as we do, we’ll update this section.
However, we do have one very informative customer review that we would like to share with you:
Considerations Before Buying an Elan Foot
Based on watching videos of Elan Foot users achieving a smooth gait over many different types of terrain, we urge all users shopping for a bionic foot/ankle system to at least test this device.
That having been said, the Elan Foot’s lack of user software and its inability to support user settings for different shoes are drawbacks. This is also true of its limited water resistance compared to foot/ankle systems like its sister product, the Elan IC, and Proteor USA’s Freedom Kinnex, both of which are fully submersible in water for up to 30 minutes.
Another drawback is Blatchford’s refusal to respond to any of our questions despite multiple requests. Those with limb differences should be able to research potential solutions on their own, just like any other consumer. Companies should assist in this process, not obstruct it.
For a list of competitor devices, see All Bionic Feet.
For a comprehensive description of all current lower-limb technologies, devices, and research, see our complete guide.
Click here for more information on Blatchford.