Grant may lead to development of adaptable interface for prostheses

Researchers with the University of Texas at Arlington have been awarded a $744,300 grant from the Department of Defense Peer Reviewed Orthapaedic Research Program to create an adaptive interface that fits between a prosthesis and a patient’s limb to improve the fit and comfort of the prosthesis.

Haiying Huang, PhD, professor in the Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering Department, and Muthu Wijesundara, PhD, principal research scientist at the University of Texas Arlington’s Research Institute, are collaborating on the project. The interface will resemble an inflatable bubble wrap that will be embedded with sensors.

Huang said four types of sensors will be used with the interface to monitor the fitting of the prosthetic device. The sensors will measure vertical movement of the limb relative to the socket wall, the pressure on the limb, changes in the circumference of the residual limb during the day and water content in the tissue.

“Eventually, we want to build the socket that can adjust automatically to the patient,” Huang stated in a press release. “In order to do that, we need the sensors to tell us when and how to adjust the socket. We plan to design a warning system first, then the sensor data will teach us how to adjust the interface automatically.”

Wijesundara – who specializes in medical devices for applications in tissue regeneration, wound healing, and prosthetic devices/interfaces – said they want an adaptable interface that can improve comfort and fit of the prosthesis regardless of the residual limb conditions and improve the quality of the life for the user.

“We want everything to adjust depending on whether the person is walking, running or simply sitting down, “ Wijesundara said. “This interface technology can be applied to various prosthetic devices and exoskeleton applications.”

The researchers believe it could take 3 years to 5 years to start clinical applications of the device.

Disclosure: This work will be supported by the Department of Defense through the Peer Reviewed Orthopaedic Research Program under Award No. W81XWH-14-1-0502.

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