next generation of prosthetics

 

Currently in the Biomechatronics Group at the MIT Media Lab, we are working on the osseointegration of prosthetics — interfacing our devices with the bone — so as to connect to muscles and nerves within the existing residual limb. This interface will allow our prosthetics to more closely mimic biological limbs than do existing devices.

 

In order to test our new prosthetic designs two problems needed to be addressed. Our prosthetic required accurate knee angle information but knee movement is not purely rotational as is a hinge. A device was needed to reliably communicate knee angle information to the prosthetic without restricting a patient’s walking motion. In addition, new torsional springs were designed specifically for the prosthetic and a method of characterizing the mechanical properties of the spring needed to be developed. 

 

 
 

 

Adaptable and sensory knee Brace

I designed and manufactured a linkage system to be anchored to both the upper and lower leg. This mechanism tracks the angle of the knee during joint’s rotation, while still allowing for linear translation without hinderance to the patient. 

 

 
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Spring testing apparatus

In order to test the custom torsional springs the Biomechatronics Group developed, I designed and manufactured a testbed, whose function could be customized to evaluate a variety of properties. 

 

 
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In this particular setup (below), a motor controller was programmed to instruct the high torque motor to rotate one end of the spring. The other end remained fixed to a load cell, which measured the resulting torque. This data was fed into a program which determined the mechanical properties of the spring. 

 

 
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