Do You Want A Smarter Prosthetic Leg?

Researchers at North Carolina State University’s Neuromuscular Rehabilitation Engineering Lab are testing and reprogramming robotic prosthesis software to better adapt to everyday situations. Human joints and muscles behave differently when carrying different loads and while oriented in different positions, so today’s “smart” prosthetics should be able to do the same.

Click here to read more about this research from NC State.

New North Carolina State University research into wearable robotics shows how amputees wearing these devices adapted when presented with a real-world challenge: carrying a weighted backpack. The results could assist device manufacturers and clinicians expand the utility of these important devices, and could help researchers develop smarter controllers that adapt to real-world demands.

Andrea Brandt, a Ph.D. student in the NC State and University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering, wanted to chart a new course of study on powered devices used to help lower-limb amputees walk. While multiple studies on the efficacy of these devices on level ground have been published, there is a paucity of work that tests these devices in more challenging real-world situations, like bearing additional weight when people carry a load – groceries or a backpack, for example.

Earlier this year, the Department of Veterans Affairs developed the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency LUKE arm system, for two veterans looking for prosthetic limbs.:

US military veterans Fred Downs and Nardi McCauley lost their arms during service to their country. As participants of a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) research study, they have become the first individuals to receive the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) LUKE arm system. The LUKE (Life Under Kinetic Evolution) bionic arm is a novel robotic prosthesis that attaches to the amputee’s limb and replicates many functions of a human arm with the help of sensors and an easy-to-use controller.

This device allows users to control multiple joints simultaneously and performs a variety of grips with adjustable grip forces. This technology was made possible by the Army Research Office and funding assistance from the US Army Medical Research and Materiel Command (USAMRMC). The working prototypes were designed by the DEKA Research and Development Corporation and built by Mobius Bionics, a commercial-scale manufacturer borne out out of the VA’s development efforts after years of research and testing.

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