Van Phillips (inventor)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Van Phillips (born 1954) is an American[1] inventor of prosthetics. He is known for the Flex-Foot brand of artificial foot and limbs that he created,[2] and for his charity work for amputees.[3] An amputee himself, having lost a leg below the knee at age 21, Phillips was motivated by the limitations of then-existing artificial limbs to attend the Northwestern University Medical School Prosthetic-Orthotic Center. After graduation, he worked as a biomedical design engineer at the University of Utah[2] before starting his own company, Flex-Foot Incorporated in 1984.

Phillips ultimately created a workable artificial foot made from carbon graphite. Unlike all previous prostheses,[citation needed] it stored kinetic energy from the wearer's steps as potential energy, like a spring, allowing the wearer to run and jump. A prosthetic foot that he created, the Flex-Foot Cheetah, is used by double-amputee and Paralympics gold-medalist Oscar Pistorius, and about 90 percent of Paralympics participants use a variation of the original Flex-Foot design, as well as thousands of people around the world.[2] Phillips sold Flex-Foot to Ossur in 2000, which continues to manufacture the artificial foot.[3][4] See also Össur#Prosthetics.

In 1999 he established Second Wind, a non-profit organization to provide inexpensive and resistant prostheses to amputees around the world, and is now working to create a prosthetic leg for land mine victims in developing countries.[3] In 1998 he received the Brian Blatchford Memorial Prize from the International Society for Prosthetics and Orthotics.[3]


  1. ^ "Runaway Success". European Patent Office. Retrieved 2015-02-12.
  2. ^ a b c "Inventor of the Week, January 2007: Van Phillips". Lemelson-MIT program. Retrieved 2008-07-02.
  3. ^ a b c d Martha Davidson. "Artificial Parts: Van Phillips". Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved 2008-07-02.
  4. ^ Pogash, Carol (2008-07-02). "A Personal Call to a Prosthetic Invention". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-07-02.

External links[edit]