Bionic leg makes amputee faster on his feet
Craig Hutto considers himself part bionic man. In 2005, doctors amputated his leg after a shark attacked him during a fishing trip off the Florida Gulf Coast.
"I was 16 years old at the time," recalls Hutto. "My brother heard me yell: 'What was that?' He saw something take me under; he saw the back fin of the shark. There was so much tissue damage and so much flesh gone that it was just irreparable."
This video is not supported by your browser at this time.Two years later and game for a challenge, Hutto became the test pilot for a unique and powerful new prosthetic leg being developed by mechanical engineer Michael Goldfarb and his team at Vanderbilt University. The effort was kick-started by a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF).
"We were able to develop an early prototype that demonstrated that you could have a leg that was light enough and could deliver biomechanical levels of torque and power," says Goldfarb.
Version 1.0 evolved into a more streamlined version 2.0, which is computer controlled, with advanced range of motion in the joints. Version 2.0 was funded by the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering at the National Institutes of Health.
"This is a battery that powers everything," explains Goldfarb, holding up the latest version and pointing to the various components. "You have a motor that drives the knee joint, another motor that drives the ankle joint. There is a whole computer board that essentially tells the motors what to do with the joints."
In Goldfarb's lab, Hutto straps on the prosthetic and "walks the walk" on a treadmill--each step recorded by an array of cameras to help engineers improve the mechanics, electronics and software.
Brian Lawson, a mechanical engineer and member of Goldfarb's team, says what makes this prosthetic stand out is the on-board computer. "What I think makes people think that it's bionic is the computing capability that infers what the user is trying to do and works synergistically with the user to provide the torque at the right time."
The prosthetic leg is designed to respond to cues from the wearer. For example, when Hutto goes from walking to climbing stairs, he gives a signal and the bionic leg responds. "I kind of kick my thigh back just a little bit," says Hutto, "and just that little movement tells it, 'Hey you're about to walk upstairs,' and it switches mode into the stair ascent."
To reduce the risk of injury, Goldfarb's team has intentionally programmed a slight delay into the leg's computer to make sure the wearer and the prosthetic stay in perfect step with each other, and to make walking easier. "The leg can move with you," says Goldfarb.
Hutto confirms it takes less effort to walk compared to the prosthetic he currently wears. "With my leg, it's harder because it's always a step behind. I'm having to use my hip to swing my leg through, whereas the Vanderbilt Powered Prosthetic, when it toes off, the power swings the leg through and so I'm not having to use my hip to swing it through."
Goldfarb says after years of work, they have sold their technology to a major prosthetic manufacturer. "We'll know in the next few years if these are going to come onto the market and really gain a lot of traction," he says.
Meanwhile, Hutto, inspired by the three nurses who saved him from bleeding to death, is studying to become a nurse and looking forward to one day walking tall on the bionic leg that he helped make a reality.
Provided by National Science Foundation
- New 'bionic' leg gives amputees a natural gait Aug 17, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- Bionic leg undergoing clinical trials Apr 22, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- Ohio State surgeons rebuild pelvis of cancer patient May 05, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- Researcher trips amputees in effort to develop improved prosthetic legs Sep 15, 2009 | not rated yet | 0
- SPARKy devices helps amputees return to normal lives (w/ Video) Dec 22, 2009 | not rated yet | 0
- Motion perception revisited: High Phi effect challenges established motion perception assumptions Apr 23, 2013 | 3 / 5 (2) | 2
- Anything you can do I can do better: Neuromolecular foundations of the superiority illusion (Update) Apr 02, 2013 | 4.5 / 5 (11) | 5
- The visual system as economist: Neural resource allocation in visual adaptation Mar 30, 2013 | 5 / 5 (2) | 9
- Separate lives: Neuronal and organismal lifespans decoupled Mar 27, 2013 | 4.9 / 5 (8) | 0
- Sizing things up: The evolutionary neurobiology of scale invariance Feb 28, 2013 | 4.8 / 5 (10) | 14
Why is zone 1 in liver more prone to ischemic injury?
May 23, 2013 Hi, Is it because around central vein, there is only deoxygenated blood from the vein where as in the periphery there is hepatic artery. Also why...
How can there be villous adenoma in colon, if there are no villi there
May 22, 2013 As title suggest. Thanks :smile:
How can there be a term called "intestinal metaplasia" of stomach
May 21, 2013 Hello everyone, Ok Stomach's normal epithelium is simple columnar, now in intestinal type of adenocarcinoma of stomach it undergoes "intestinal...
Pressure-volume curve: Elastic Recoil Pressure don't make sense
May 18, 2013 From pressure-volume curve of the lung and chest wall (attached photo), I don't understand why would the elastic recoil pressure of the lung is...
If you became brain-dead, would you want them to pull the plug?
May 17, 2013 I'd want the rest of me to stay alive. Sure it's a lousy way to live but it beats being all-the-way dead. Maybe if I make it 20 years they'll...
MRI bill question
May 15, 2013 Dear PFers, The hospital gave us a $12k bill for one MRI (head with contrast). The people I talked to at the hospital tell me that they do not...
- More from Physics Forums - Medical Sciences
More news stories
By discovering the new mechanism by which estrogen suppresses lipid synthesis in the liver, UC Irvine endocrinologists have revealed a potential new approach toward treating certain liver diseases.
Medical research May 23, 2013 | 5 / 5 (1) | 0 |
Aortic arch pulse wave velocity, a measure of arterial stiffness, is a strong independent predictor of disease of the vessels that supply blood to the brain, according to a new study published in the June issue the journal ...
Medical research May 23, 2013 | not rated yet | 0
Since the discovery of Prontosil in 1932, sulfonamide antibiotics have been used to combat a wide spectrum of bacterial infections, from acne to chlamydia and pneumonia. However, their side effects can include serious neurological ...
Medical research May 23, 2013 | 3 / 5 (1) | 0 |
Scientists at the National Institutes of Health report they have discovered in mouse studies that a small molecule released in the spinal cord triggers a process that is later experienced in the brain as ...
Medical research May 23, 2013 | 5 / 5 (3) | 0 |
Spanish researchers have discovered that the daily clearance of neutrophils from the body stimulates the release of hematopoietic stem cells from the bone marrow into the bloodstream, according to a report published today ...
Medical research May 23, 2013 | 5 / 5 (2) | 0
Coenzyme Q10 decreases all cause mortality by half, according to the results of a multicentre randomised double blind trial presented today at Heart Failure 2013 congress. It is the first drug to improve heart failure mortality ...
21 hours ago | 5 / 5 (6) | 5
Heart failure accelerates the aging process and brings on early andropausal syndrome (AS), according to research presented today at the Heart Failure Congress 2013. AS, also referred to as male 'menopause', was four times ...
21 hours ago | 5 / 5 (1) | 1
(HealthDay)—Animals make great companions for senior citizens, but elderly people who always drive with a pet in the car are far more likely to crash than those who never drive with a pet, researchers have ...
13 hours ago | not rated yet | 1
(Medical Xpress)—A research team, led by Jeremy Barr, a biology post-doctoral fellow, unveils a new immune system that protects humans and animals from infection.
May 20, 2013 | 4.8 / 5 (31) | 9 |
Until now, little was scientifically known about the human potential to cultivate compassion—the emotional state of caring for people who are suffering in a way that motivates altruistic behavior.
May 22, 2013 | 4.3 / 5 (6) | 6 |
Mortality and length of stay are highest in heart failure patients admitted in January, on Friday, and overnight, according to research presented today at the Heart Failure Congress 2013. The analysis of nearly 1 million ...
21 hours ago | not rated yet | 0