Patents & Memorandum – Sofia Hruby 9/29

As Eliza explained in the previous blog post, we were a part of the Lemelson MIT InvenTeam during our sophomore year.  Because of this experience we are familiar with the design process to create new prototypes that have not yet been patented.  Finding patents can be helpful to use as inspiration but can also make your idea seem less original.  Nonetheless, it is important to research patents so that your design is not the same as another inventor’s product.

Sofia researching patents on orthotics which prevent and soothe heel pain.
Sofia researching patents on orthotics which prevent and soothe heel pain.

Both of my parents, who are active runners, have dealt with heel pain from plantar fasciitis.  While my dad often uses inserts to limit pain in his foot, my mom finds that inserts don’t help her very much and many inserts do not fit in her flats or high heels without showing through.  Because the focus of the shoe insert we are designing is targeted towards females, the function as well as aesthetics of the product must be considered carefully with equal importance.

Plantar fasciitis is simply the inflammation of the thick tissue that connects the heel to phalanges (toes).  This problem is often experienced by the middle aged population because as humans age, their body tissue becomes less flexible.  The lack of flexibility causes their tissues to become rigid thus resulting in heel pain/plantar fasciitis when the tissue is overused or stretched too far.

According to a medical journal article about Plantar Fasciitis, “the pain reduction mechanism obtained by the use of insoles would be mostly related to its supporting function of the longitudinal arch and not to the overload reduction over the plantar surface.”  Additionally, “There appears to be no difference between prefabricated or custom foot orthoses in the results of treatment which is strongly recommended to be used to provide short-term (3 months) reduction in pain and improvement in function.”

Diagram of foot explaining plantar fasciitis.
Diagram of foot explaining plantar fasciitis.

After doing patent research, plantar fasciitis is clearly a problem that people have attempted to approach before.  Yet, seeing that my mom has not found a consistent method of heel pain relief, I am lead to believe that there has a yet to be a product that attacks the problem of plantar fasciitis while not being visible while wearing most types of shoes.  I’m really excited to compile all of our ideas into a memorandum and finally begin prototyping and testing.  Researching our topic and patents related for our intended design is crucial to the design process even though it may not be the most exciting part.  With adequate research and preparation, SEAS will work more efficiently in building prototypes and mock ups.

References:

Tahririan, Mohammad Ali. Motififard, Mehdi.  Tahmaseb, Mohammad Naghi, Siavashi, Babak. “Plantar Fasciitis.” Journal of Research in Medical Science US National Library of Medicine, Aug. 2012. Web. Sept. 2014

Leary, Steve. “Plantar Fasciitis It’s a Real Pain in the Foot, Knee, Hip, Buttocks, Back…” Footzoneblog 1 May 2013. Web. Sept. 2014

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