Real-time module enables passive ankle prosthesis to control and release stored energy for optimal propulsion.
Researchers at the University of Central Florida have developed a device with a unique learning algorithm to maximize the propulsion efficiency of passive prostheses used by individuals with transtibial (below-knee) amputations. The UCF real-time adjustable energy-releasing device enables leg and ankle prostheses to control stored energy and release it at appropriate times to propel the body forward. The device attaches to existing passive prostheses or can be included in the production of new prostheses.
A conventional passive prosthesis (such as one with a carbon fiber foot) stores energy as the user applies weight and then returns energy as the body moves forward. However, it cannot control the timing of the energy release. As a result, the prosthesis may not release stored energy at optimal times during the gait cycle. Instead, it may release an upward force, causing the user to use other muscles to maintain a steady gait.
The following example setup of the invention includes a module and steel wires attached to the prosthesis. In the module, a sensor communicates with a microcontroller to determine appropriate times for releasing stored energy and providing propulsion along the direction of travel. The user can manually set the energy release timing or let the optimized algorithm set the timing. The module also can be configured to detect the type of walking surface (such as grass, pavement or incline/decline) to provide optimal energy release timing.
An example illustration of the UCF real-time adjustable energy-releasing mechanism.
The research team is looking for partners to develop the technology further for commercialization.
- Can be installed onto existing prostheses or integrated into new devices
- Compatible with most types of passive ankle prostheses
- Reduces the time, effort and cost of getting a new prescription and buying a new prosthesis
- Requires low battery power
- Prosthetics and orthotics