Robot control theory could improve gait in amputees

The robot control theory could enable prostheses to dynamically respond to environment, and improve gait in amputees, according to research published in IEEE Transactions on Robotics.

Researchers at the University of Texas at Dallas measured the center of pressure on the foot in three transfemoral amputees. Using powered prostheses inputted with height, weight and dimension of the residual thigh, the amputees walked on the ground and on a treadmill moving at increasing speeds.

Participants were able to move at speeds of more than 1 meter per second, according to study findings. Normal walking speed of able-bodied individuals is about 1.3 meters per second, the study found. Participants also reported exerting less energy than with their traditional prostheses.

“Our approach resulted in a method for controlling powered prostheses for amputees to help them move in a more stable, natural way than current prostheses,” Robert D. Gregg, PhD, assistant professor of bioengineering and mechanical engineering at the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science, and lead author of the study, stated in a news release.

Researchers plan to compare results of the experiment with robotic legs using the time paradigm and center of pressure paradigm.

For more information:

Gregg RD. IEEE Trans Robot. 2014; doi:10.1109/TRO.2014.2361937

Disclosure: Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, Northwestern University and the University of New Brunswick contributed in findings. Work funded by the United States Army Medical Research Acquisition Activity, the Burroughs Wellcome Fund and the National Institutes of Health through the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

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