For more than a decade, Joseph Webster, M.D., a VCU Department of PM&R professor and rehabilitation clinician at the Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center (VAMC), has been part of a team of innovative researchers from the Department of Veterans Affairs and the University of Utah to develop a novel implant for the direct skeletal attachment of prosthetic limbs. This percutaneous osseointegrated prosthesis (POP) has the potential to overcome many of the limitations associated with currently available socket-based suspension systems.

POP has been accepted by the FDA’s Breakthrough Devices Program, which provides patients and healthcare providers with timely access to these medical devices by accelerating their development, assessment and review. This is due to offering clinically meaningful advantages over existing approved alternatives, specifically reduced rehabilitation periods, lower infection rates and maintenance of distal cortical bone.

The multi-site research team that Dr. Webster co-leads has just received a $27.8 million grant from the Department of Veterans Affairs Cooperative Studies Program (CSP) to further study the efficacy and safety of the POP. Over the next six years participants with above-knee amputations will be recruited from across the U.S. and enrolled at four VA medical centers, including; the George E. Wahlen VA Medical Center (Salt Lake City, UT), the Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center (Richmond, VA), the Minneapolis VA Medical Center (Minneapolis, MN), and the Puget Sound VA Medical Center (Seattle, WA).

As multi-principal investigator, Dr. Webster will lead the Richmond-based research team, a collaborative effort between the VAMC and VCU PM&R’s Center for Rehabilitative Science and Engineering (CERSE) with a site budget of $4.2 million.

“For persons with limb loss, the connection between the person and the prosthesis is considered to be the most critical aspect of prosthetic restoration. In order to be effective, the connection between the person’s residual limb and the prosthesis must be comfortable, secure and provide for the transfer of motion from the person to the prosthesis,” said Dr. Webster. “This prospective, open label, randomized multi-center study using the POP will be a big step forward towards achieving this goal and improving quality of life for persons living with limb loss.”

“VCU’s Center for Rehabilitation Science and Engineering is a nationally recognized, interdisciplinary research center supporting more than 70 researchers across VCU schools, the McGuire VAMC, CHoR and the Sheltering Arms Institute to advance health and wellness across a range of disabling conditions,” said VCU Associate Dean of Innovation and Systems Integration, David Cifu, M.D. “The collaboration between McGuire VA and VCU has been critical to accelerating innovative research as demonstrated by this newest award from the Department of Veterans Affairs.”