The Genium X3 Knee has been compared to a luxury sports car. At more than $100,000 US, it is extremely expensive but also delivers on its premium price. Sophisticated sensor and microprocessor technologies make navigating challenging terrains routine. Fully waterproof and highly resistant to dust, dirt, corrosion, etc., it is ideal for outdoor activities. Most importantly to us, it offers the hope that, one day, we will indeed restore near-natural functionality to all lower-limb amputees who desire it.
A Quick Look at the Genium X3
Fortunately, we have found an independent user (Steve Wilmes) who has created a few short videos that show us exactly what the Genium X3 can do. Here is one of those videos:
As you can see, the X3 is waterproof, which is a huge plus. But what we find extraordinary is the level of trust that Steve has in the knee even when walking on a slippery surface in running water.
That kind of trust is one of our key measures for any bionic lower limb.
Genium X3 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 level of resistance in the knee to ensure proper 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 X3 performs these tasks using Ottobock’s Optimized Physiology Gait approach, as follows:
- PreFlex. The Genium X3 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 X3 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
One of the biggest benefits of the Genium X3’s sensor and microprocessor system is its rapid adaptability. For example, its ability to handle sudden changes in stride length or direction. This is ideal for high activity, unpredictable environments like working in hospitals or daycare centers.
This same adaptability allows the Genium X3 to traverse extremely challenging terrain, as shown in this video:
The Genium X3’s ability to automatically adapt to increased weight means the user can pick up boxes or suitcases without worrying if the increased weight might cause a stumble or fall.
The knee allows for a seamless transition from walking to running, making it possible to spontaneously run to catch a bus or taxi, etc.
The user can switch prosthetic feet for different activities without having to manually recalibrate the knee settings.
The entire system is designed to relieve the user of the need to micromanage their prosthesis. This makes the use of the prosthesis much less taxing, which has a direct and significant impact on the user’s quality of life.
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 X3’s 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 X3 has an IP rating of 68, meaning it is fully submersible in both fresh water and salt water up to three meters for as long as 60 minutes, as you can see in this video:
The Genium X3 is also resistant to corrosion, dust, dirt, and sand. In other words, it is perfectly capable of handling most natural environments.
Device Weight & User Weight Limit
The Genium X3 weighs 1.7 kilograms. The maximum allowable user weight for the knee is 125 kilograms.
The Genium X3 is rated for K3 and K4 use. For a thorough understanding of K-levels, please see the Amputee Coalition’s web page on this topic.
In particular, the Genium X3 is designed for typical sports activities including running, swimming, tennis, etc. It is not designed for extreme sports such as free climbing, parachuting, paragliding, etc.
Ottobock provides a software application for users to manage some of the Genium X3’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 X3 including any repair costs due to defects. They also offer free service inspections in months 12 and 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 X3 typically sells for more than $100,000 US including the socket, prosthetic foot, and all prosthetist fees.
Considerations Before Buying a Genium X3
The main considerations when considering the Genium X3 are its intended use and price.
Regarding intended use, active K3/K4 users are the ones most likely to fully utilize the Genium X3’s features. It is likely overkill for less active users.
As for price, not many people have $100,000 US plus to spend on a bionic knee. But if you can afford the Genium X3, its benefits are undeniable, especially in challenging terrains, outdoor environments, and during sporting activities.
The Genium X3 is also especially useful for bilateral amputees owing to the greater stability provided by its automatic microprocessor adjustments.
One small drawback to all bionic knees is that they weigh more than purely mechanical knees. But if a person is active and fit, as is typical of most Genium X3 customers, this should not cause any problems.
For more information on lower-limb bionics, see Understanding Bionic Legs & Feet.
Click here for more information on Ottobock.