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Step Ahead - Nike Prosthetic Limb

Up-cycling Nike Grind materials to engineer the next generation of prostheses which celebrate the grit of athletes and non-athletes alike.

Photo of Monica DeBold
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Nike Grind materials inherently possess  qualities valued in prosthetic limb design: shock-absorbent plastics, moisture-wicking textiles and malleable rubbers. The idea would be to re-purpose these materials to be used in the socket of the limb, coating of the pylon supporting limb and accessories such as straps for attachments and socks for better fit and comfort. Nike could partner with prosthetic designers and bio-mechanical engineers to innovate and change the look and feel of prostheses. 

This incorporation of Nike Grind material would be a no-brainer as Nike currently partners with Ossur to create Flex-Run™ specialized running feet for disabled athletes. Together we could build on this partnership to work toward up-cycling Grind materials to create limbs for both athletes and non-athletes. 

Prostheses made from recycled material may significantly decrease costs and make this therapy accessible to more people in need while simultaneously celebrating the strength of those individuals equipped with prosthetic limbs with bright and bold Nike colors.

Company / Organization Name (if applicable)


Website (if applicable)


Which Nike Grind materials will your idea utilize?

  • Rubber Outsoles
  • Rubber Flashings
  • Rubber Granulate
  • EVA Foam Injection Scraps
  • EVA Foam Flashings
  • EVA Foam Sheets & Blocks
  • EVA Foam Components
  • Laminated EVA Foam
  • Mixed Apparel Textile
  • Mixed Footwear Textile
  • Full Grain Leather Scraps
  • Split Leather Scraps Coated
  • Synthetic Leather

How specifically will these materials be incorporated into your solution?

Socket of the limb: Rubber outsoles, flashings, and granules combined to use as shock absorbing material for the limb socket. This would alleviate pressure on the existing limb and could be molded to the wearer's residual limb to maximize fit and comfort. Pylon coating: EVA foam injection scraps, flashings, sheets and block components to be used as the coating around the structural pylon supporting the limb. Traditionally, foam-like material is used and made to match skin tone. Wearers could choose to go with a skin-colored foam (coating to the Grind materials) or let the different speckles of Grind rubber granules shine through. Straps and accessories: Miscellaneous textile scraps (mixed apparel, mixed footwear) can be used to create socks to fit over the residual limb to provide cushion from daily wear and adjust the fit based on fluctuations in weight and water retention. Leather scraps can be used to create support straps, particularly for arm/hand prosthesis.

Please include a visual (can be either 2D or 3D) representation/prototype of your concept. (required)

What is the current stage of development of your idea?

  • Research & Early Testing
  • Prototyping

Describe your target market. Who will benefit from your product?

Prostheses are used by a wide variety of different user groups, including, but not limited to: professional athletes, veterans, diabetic population (peripheral artery disease (PAD) amputees), elderly/aging population and children.

How will you scale your idea? Please describe in detail your plan to scale your concept.

Utilize existing partnerships with Ossur and other prosthetic designers and manufacturers as well as current Nike departments working on the development of prosthetic technology to incorporate the use of Grind materials in the manufacturing process.

How is your idea innovative?

As industry leaders and experts in shoe design, Nike Grind rubbers and plastics are inherently designed to be light-weight and durable. Using Grind materials, we can challenge the current wasteful manufacturing process for prosthetic limbs and complement new plastics and materials such as carbon fiber, titanium and Kevlar to maintain the structural integrity and support of the limb.

What inspired this idea?

I have seen family members struggle for years to get the right fit with their prosthesis. For the average wearer, it's about 'making due' and living with discomfort and an aesthetically unappealing limb. Nike has the partnerships already in place to make a difference in patient quality of life.

Tell us about yourself and your team. What is your background and experience?

Monica - UX researcher always on the quest to learn new and innovative ways to use technology for good and create simple, meaningful experiences.

In what city are you located?


In what country are you located?


What is your legal / organizational structure? (if applicable)


Please describe how becoming a Top Idea will support the growth of your concept.

The ability to co-create and collaborate with Nike designers and prosthetic design partners would be invaluable. As a UX researcher, I can be an advocate for the wearer and work to include user needs into the design process while consulting with product designers and engineers on the structural components and limitations of the prosthesis.

1 comment

Join the conversation:

Photo of Lauren Ito

Hi Monica DeBold ,

A reminder that the ideas phase of this Challenge closes in less than one hour, at 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time. Please have your submission updated by this deadline with content to all proposal questions complete.

Excited to have you in the Challenge!