The Ottobock Genium offers the latest in bionic knee technology. More advanced than its corporate cousin — the venerable C-Leg — the Genium helps users walk with a more natural gait, improved safety, and reduced energy consumption. In short, it allows users to focus less on their prosthesis and more on life.
A Quick Look at the Ottobock Genium
It is difficult to find updated videos of the Genium knee because most recent videos focus on its premium sister product, the Genium X3. But we were able to find this video of a Genium user enjoying a day of varied activities in her seaside community:
Notice how easily she traverses different terrains and handles obstacles with confidence. This is the ultimate goal for lower-limb bionics — to give people back their freedom of mobility.
Ottobock Genium Key Features
To understand how bionic knees work in general, please see Understanding Bionic Legs & Feet.
The short story is that the microprocessors in bionic knees have three main tasks:
- automatically adjusting the resistance in the knee to ensure the proper level of support through each stage of the Stance Phase;
- ensuring the optimal release point for the knee to begin the Swing Phase, and also the proper foot clearance during this phase, especially when ascending stairs, ramps, etc.;
- assisting in stumble recovery;
The Genium performs these tasks using Ottobock’s Optimized Physiology Gait approach, as follows:
- PreFlex. The Genium maintains a four-degree preflexion of the knee joint at heel strike. This dampens impact and allows the foot to achieve full contact with the surface more quickly.
- Adaptive Yielding Control. The knee rapidly adjusts knee flexion for optimum support, in real-time, in response to everything from changing terrain to increased user weight (i.e. if the user is carrying something) to the use of heavier footwear. This also helps absorb the impact of each step.
- Dynamic Stability Control (DSC). A bionic knee must flex properly at the precise moment that weight is transferred to the other leg. DSC uses multiple environmental inputs to calculate that precise moment and to manage the appropriate resistance and release of the knee joint. This not only increases stability but also supports multi-directional movement (i.e. backward, sideways, etc.).
- Adaptive Swing Phase Control. Ensures precise control of the lower-leg pendulum to 65 degrees of flexion regardless of walking speed. This helps prevent stumbles and falls.
To ensure optimum settings at all times, the Genium updates and evaluates its sensor data 100 times per second.
The system also offers different modes for specific activities such as bicycling, running, etc.
Benefits of the Microprocessor System
The most obvious benefit of the Genium’s sensor and microprocessor system is its ability to handle so many different types of activities and terrain. Here is another video demonstrating this:
Once a user has gained trust in the Genium, he/she is generally unafraid to tackle challenges like sloped terrains, stepping over obstacles, or even climbing makeshift ladders.
Also, note the confidence the user has to pick up his son without worrying about whether the knee will function properly under the added load. This is possible because the Genium automatically compensates when carrying increased weight.
Another benefit is the knee’s ability to smoothly transition from one type of activity to another, such as shifting from walking to running:
As you can see, the Genium handles this transition smoothly — it is the user that needs to learn to trust it.
The Genium can also handle sudden shifts in stride length or direction, such as stepping over or side-stepping obstacles.
Improved safety is another benefit of the Genium’s advanced technology. In one clinical study, the Genium was rated as safer than the C-Leg in 45 activities of daily living.
All of this improved adaptability/flexibility/safety means that users don’t have to think too much about using their prosthesis. Instead, they can enjoy a more natural walking gait, which significantly reduces the load on other joints as well as the physical and mental energy required to use the prosthesis.
Compatibility with Prosthetic Feet
To make life even easier, Ottobock’s Quickchange adapter allows you to switch prosthetic feet in seconds, much as you would change a pair of shoes.
The Genium battery can last for up to five days, though Ottobock recommends charging the battery daily.
If completely drained, a full charge requires six to eight hours.
Water Proofing and Dust Resistance
The Genium has an IP rating of 67, meaning it is considered weatherproof. Walking in the rain or splashing fresh water on the knee when watering the garden is not a problem. Unlike the Genium X3, the Genium cannot tolerate salt water or prolonged submersion.
The knee can handle dust and has the same dust tolerance as the Genium X3.
Device Weight & User Weight Limit
The Genium knee weighs 1.4 kilograms. The maximum allowable user weight for the knee is 150 kilograms.
The Genium is technically rated for K2 to K4 use, though it would be more commonly selected by K3/K4 users. For a thorough understanding of K-levels, please see the Amputee Coalition’s web page on this topic.
Ottobock provides a software application for users to manage some of the Genium knee’s settings. The app is called Cockpit:
This app allows users to do the following:
- Switch modes for different activities.
- Change settings for individual modes.
- Turn Bluetooth on and off.
- View the percentage of remaining battery charge, as well as the daily and total step counts.
Ottobock offers a full three-year warranty on the Genium knee including any repair costs due to defects. They also offer a free service inspection at month 24 and a free service unit during repair and service inspections.
The warranty can be extended to six years at the user’s option.
According to our information, the Genium knee typically sells for between $60,000 and $80,000 US including the socket, prosthetic foot, and all prosthetist fees.
Considerations Before Buying a Genium Knee
If you’re a high-end K3, low-end K4 user, the only reason that you wouldn’t get a Genium, Genium X3, or Ossur’s Rheo XC is due to the high cost.
If cost is not an issue, it mainly depends on the nature of your activities. If you participate in outdoor sports involving a lot of water, or you want to go for the occasional swim, the only real choice is the Genium X3.
If water does not play an important part in your activities but sports do, the Rheo XC is probably the better choice over the Genium because it is quicker to adjust its resistance. But if daily activities are more important to you, the Genium is likely the preferred option thanks to its superior safety/reliability.
If you’re a high-end K2, low-to-middle K3 user, your options broaden to include every bionic knee other than the Ottobock Kenevo, which is squarely targeted for K1/K2 users.
Those are all general guides. As always, it is best to confer with your prosthetist.
For more information on lower-limb bionics, see Understanding Bionic Legs & Feet.
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