Variable Friction Shoe

Tech ID: 30359 / UC Case 2019-421-0

Brief Description

The Variable Friction Shoe, which ameliorates the effects of drop foot.


There are currently several ways to treat drop foot, a common symptom of a neurological injury or disorder, symptoms. Functional electrical stimulation (FES) shocks the Tibialis Anterior muscle during the swing phase of gait, for example. However, the procedure is often described as painful by prior study subjects. Another common treatment is ankle foot orthosis which has to be customized to fit each person which can be cumbersome. A design that can manage drop foot that fits everyone based on shoe size, is low-cost and easy to implement would positively affect the life many with drop foot issues. 


Researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara have developed the Variable Friction Shoe, which ameliorates the effects of drop foot. A person with drop foot has difficulty clearing the floor to advance the foot forward during the swing phase of gait because the foot will scruff on the ground. This invention provides a temporary low friction walking surface under the front half of the shoe during the swing phase and high friction during the stance phase by using retractable low-friction surfaces which allows the person to operate the shoe normally. Data has shown an average of 30% increase in walking speed within a minute of testing the shoe.


The cadence prototypes consist of two versions: alpha and beta; both shoes showed improvement in gait mechanics and speed.




  • Ameliorates the effects of drop foot
  • Low cost
  • Easy to use assistive device
  • Average of 30% increase in walking speed


  • Remedy drop foot

Patent Status

Patent Pending


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Other Information


Advanced Materials, indadvmat, Drop foot, Variable friction, Assistive Device, Neurological injury/disorder

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