In May 2006, David Bishop, a 3rd year engineering student at the University of Waterloo, injured his knee while playing soccer. He has damaged his peroneal nerve, torn his posterior cruciate ligament, broken off the fibular head, and torn the hamstring muscle that attaches to the fibular head. The long term consequence of the nerve damage was that he was no longer able to control the lofting or twisting outwards of his foot. This condition is commonly called foot drop. David was supplied with a traditional foot brace, and ankle foot orthotic, bur found that it did not provide the combination of support, range of motion, and comfort that would allow him to return to an active lifestyle. For his final year design project, he chose to design a new foot brace that would be suitable for long distance running.
This case study is intended to illustrate the product design process, including clear definition of the problem, benchmarking of existing solutions, generation of alternatives, their evaluation, choosing the best option, and verification using prototyping.