Researchers at Michigan Technological University are developing a computer-controlled leg with an ankle providing two degrees of motion allowing the foot roll from side to side, allowing for a more natural gait.
The current version of the prosthesis incorporates pressure sensors on its bottom surface that detect how the user is walking, and transmits this information to a microprocessor. The leg responds instantaneously by adjusting the angle of the foot via the ankle joint, to facilitate a more stable, natural gait.
This mechanical, computer controlled prosthesis was created by mechanical engineer Prof. Mo Rastgaar and PhD student Evandro Ficanha.
The final version will be lighter than similar products, as the microprocessor and motors will be contained in a backpack. A housed steel cable will control the ankle’s movements from the backpack, similar to how breaks are controlled on a bicycle.