University of Michigan’s Groundbreaking Project Aims to Enhance Robotic Prosthetic Leg Precision and Functionality

Article Title: University of Michigan Project Aims to Improve Robotic Prosthetic Legs

A new University of Michigan project funded by the National Institutes of Health is focused on creating a more seamless experience for users of robotic prosthetic legs. With a grant of $3 million, the project aims to enhance the control program for these advanced prosthetics, addressing the challenges of movement transitions and synchronization with the human body.

The Challenge of Robotic Prosthetic Legs:
Unlike the human body, robotic prosthetic legs face difficulties in smoothly transitioning between different activities, such as standing, walking, and climbing stairs. A key obstacle is the lack of connection to the user’s central nervous system, making it challenging to stay in sync with the body’s natural movements.

Innovative Control Program:
Led by robotics expert, Robert Gregg, the project has developed a continuous control model for the knee and ankle joints, allowing for a more natural gait. Previous prosthetic legs used separate controllers for different stages of the gait cycle, leading to cumbersome clinical deployment due to the need for individual optimization for each patient.

Impedance Approach:
The team is now exploring an impedance approach for controlling joint position, aiming to mimic biomechanical properties and provide a more flexible and comfortable experience for prosthetic leg users. This approach is likened to the suspension of a car, offering a gentler and smoother movement between activities.

Biomechanical Replication:
To replicate the natural motion of the hips and back, the leg’s programming is based on biomechanical measurements of individuals with biological legs. This innovative approach aims to minimize pain and discomfort experienced by users of passive prosthetic legs.

Testing and Future Impact:
The control programs will be tested on both a lab-built robotic leg and Ossür’s Power Knee prosthetic leg to measure increases in comfort and reductions in pain. The ultimate goal is to enhance the current models and provide improved mobility for individuals using prosthetic legs.

With a multi-disciplinary team of researchers and industry collaborators, the project at the University of Michigan is on the path to revolutionizing the functionality and comfort of robotic prosthetic legs. By leveraging advanced control algorithms and biomechanical insights, the project aims to significantly improve the quality of life for amputees and individuals with mobility challenges.

Emily Thompson

Dr. Emily Thompson is a highly respected medical professional and seasoned health journalist, contributing her expertise to our news website. With a medical degree from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and over 15 years of experience in clinical practice, Dr. Thompson possesses a deep understanding of various health issues.
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