Founded in 1890, Chas. A. Blatchford & Sons Ltd has built a global reputation as a developer, innovator and provider of lower-limb prosthetics and orthotic products. Blatchford responded to the mobility needs of young active returning World War II amputees by concentrating development on a prosthetic knee that allowed for stabilized weight bearing and flexion when walking. The knee, known as the Blatchford Stabilised Knee, became popular worldwide and established Blatchford as an industry leader in prosthetic innovation.
Blatchford has continued to develop increasingly sophisticated and successful prosthetics including the Blatchford Modular Assembly Prosthesis, winner of The Queen’s Award and Design Council Award, and the Endolite Carbon Fibre System that have set industry standards. Blatchford remains committed to creating the future of mobility with the use of computer-controlled micro-processors to achieve the smoothest possible gait pattern. A three-time winner of Queens Awards for Technological Achievement, the Prince of Wales Award for Innovation and a Millennium Products Award, Blatchford and Endolite hold patents for many of their prosthetic components and continue to concentrate on enhancing the quality of life for those with limited mobility.
The success of the Echelon Foot focussed developments on bio-mimetic designs that would closely mimic human posture and function. The latest, award winning Elan Foot gives sophisticated microprocessor controlled action to assist walking and secure the limb appropriately on slopes. More recently, Linx is the first microprocessor-controlled lower limb system where the foot and knee continuously talk to each other to optimise performance and improve safety.
The 2000s have been an exciting period of development within Blatchford with innovative output of feet, ankles and knees. Knees included the KX06, a one-off linkage and hydraulic control hybrid, that enables smoother gait.
Foot developments meant another dramatic development with the Echelon foot providing fluid ankle motion using a hydraulic foot/ankle in combination with independent eCarbon spring heel and toe action.
In 1990 Blatchford began development of the first commercially available microprocessor controlled prosthetic knee in the world. The Intelligent Prosthesis (IP) programmed to each individual user to achieve the smoothest, energy saving gait pattern was soon followed by a unique hybrid pneumatic/hydraulic microprocessor controlled knee, able to detect ramps, stairs and speed and respond accordingly. Another innovation during this period was an injection moulded volume limb system for large scale use in developing countries, a waterproof version, the Aqualimb continues to be popular.
More Awards followed as Blatchford changed the nature of Prosthetic components by developing the world’s first carbon fibre prosthetic system using materials developed for the aircraft industry. This technology promoted light, high strength designs that passed the new ISO standards for limb components. The innovation paved the way for the future development of flexible feet and shin components that would allow energy return to enhance walking and sports activities.
Designed by Brian Blatchford, the Modular Assembly Prosthesis (MAP) was the first UK modular system. It allowed the assembly of a prosthesis from a series of stock components. Finally large numbers of amputees could be fitted within a reasonable time scale. The company won a series of awards, including The Queen’s Award and Design Council Award, for this successful innovation.
The need for better limb controls became more apparent after World War II with the huge increase in young active amputees. Blatchford development resources concentrated on a new knee that would stablise during weight bearing but swing freely during walking, thereby allowing a natural walking pattern. Called the Blatchford Stabilised Knee, this device was to become popular worldwide.
Blatchford was also outgrowing it’s London offices and needed space to grow and more room to increase production to meet demands. In early 1960, the Board started the process of looking for locations outside London and by the late-60s the new company head office and factory was open on Lister Road in Basingstoke – a site that Blatchford still owns and operates from today, although the headquarters have since moved a few miles down the road!
During the Second World War, W. A. Blatchford was involved in discussions with the Ministry of Pensions to determine how best to provide for the needs of air raid casualties and the war wounded returning home.
After the founding of the NHS 1948, the company was directed to concentrate on providing lower limb prosthesis and Blatchford has been a provider of prosthetic services to the NHS since its inception.
The outbreak of war in 1914 and the resulting huge number of casualties returning to Great Britain meant there was an increased need for upper and lower limb prosthetic components. The war acted to stimulate development of artificial limbs including improvements in design, quality and production.
The Anglesea or Clapper Leg was developed for the First Marquess of Anglesea in 1816 after he lost a limb during the Battle of Waterloo the previous year. The latter name was given for the noise it made on full extension!
This leg was a feature of Blatchford clinical provision when the company was founded by Chas A. Blatchford in London in 1890.