Stepping Out in Style: Toward an Artificial Leg with a Natural Gait

Humans rarely walk the straight and narrow; something’s always in the way. So Michigan Tech scientists are developing a computer-controlled prosthesis to make it much easier for amputees to turn as they walk.

In cooperation with a Mayo Clinic scientist, researchers at Michigan Tech are taking a giant step toward solving the problem. They are making a bionic foot that could make an amputee’s walk in the park feel, well, like a walk in the park.

Assistant Professor Mo Rastgaar and PhD student Evandro Ficanha
The secret lies in the ankle. Mo Rastgaar, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering–engineering mechanics, and PhD student Evandro Ficanha are working on a microprocessor-controlled ankle-foot prosthesis that comes close to achieving the innate range of motion of this highly complex joint.

These computerized artificial legs have pressure-sensitive sensors on the bottom of the foot that detect how the amputee is walking. The sensors instantaneously send signals to a microprocessor, which in turn adjusts the prosthesis to make walking more natural.

For the full story see Michigan Tech News

Published in Tech Today by Marcia Goodrich, magazine editor