After years of development, a Minnesota-designed sensory prosthesis intended to improve walking abilities in patients with little to no feeling in their legs is hitting the commercial market, starting with patients who are veterans.

Eden Prairie-based RxFunction last week announced the commercial launch of its Walkasins system, which is intended to improve gait and walking speed in patients who have a condition called peripheral neuropathy in the lower limbs.

“This marks the culmination of building the organization, hiring and training sales and operational staff, launching our walk2Wellness long-term clinical trial and publishing results of an earlier clinical trial,” RxFunction CEO Tom Morizio said in a news release about the launch. “We will first offer Walkasins within the Veterans Administration, which has a large number of veterans with peripheral neuropathy.”

With sensory peripheral neuropathy, nerve damage in the feet causes numbness, often as a result of diabetes or chemotherapy, leading to difficulties walking and a higher risk for falls. The Walkasins system doesn’t restore nerve function, but rather uses sensors worn in the shoes and vibratory units worn on the ankles to give patients a sense of how their feet are moving and when to take the next step. The system is considered “wearable” and does not require surgery.

The Walkasins system is available with a doctor’s prescription. The company says patients with peripheral neuropathy who have balance problems can talk to their doctor about the system, or go to the website to learn more. The company’s ongoing walk2Wellness study is being conducted at the VA Medical Center in Minneapolis, Fairview Health Services in Minneapolis, and Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

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