iWalk BiOM PowiWalk BiOM Power Foot Helping Amputees Regain a Natural Gait (video)er Foot Helping Amputees Regain a Natural Gait (video)

iWalk BiOM Power Foot Helping Amputees Regain a Natural Gait (video)

Yesterday at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Providence, R.I., a group of researchers and engineers from MIT and Brown University unveiled a novel robotic ankle that not only provides a prosthesis to stand or walk on, but also “propels users forward using tendon-like springs and an electric motor.” We have originally reported about this device in February 2005, when it was in an early prototype stage. Now, according to Reuters, the device should become commercially available in Summer 2008 through a recently formed iWalk, Inc., based in Cambridge, Mass.

4825herr2 PowerFoot One: Active Ankle foot Prosthesis from MIT UnveiledFrom the MIT press office:

Garth Stewart, 24, who lost his left leg below the knee in an explosion in Iraq, demonstrated the new powered ankle-foot prosthesis during a ceremony at the Providence, R.I., Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Stewart walked in the device, which, unlike any other, propels users forward using tendon-like springs and an electric motor. The prototype device reduces fatigue, improves balance and provides amputees with a more fluid gait. It could become commercially available as early as the summer of 2008.

MIT Media Lab Professor Hugh Herr and his team of researchers developed the ankle-foot. Herr, NEC Career Development Professor and head of the biomechatronics research group at the Media Lab, is a VA research investigator. He is also a double amputee who tested his invention: “This design releases three times the power of a conventional prosthesis to propel you forward and, for the first time, provides amputees with a truly humanlike gait,” Herr said.

“It’s wild,” he said, “like you’re on one of those moving walkways in the airport.”

Because conventional prostheses only provide a passive spring response during walking, they force the amputee to have an unnatural gait and typically to expend some 30 percent more energy on walking than a non-amputee. The new ankle is light, flexible, and — most importantly — generates energy for walking beyond that which can be released from a spring alone.

This is accomplished through a device equipped with multiple springs and a small battery-powered motor. The energy produced from the forward motion of the person wearing the prosthesis is stored in the power-assisted spring, and then released as the foot pushes off. Additional mechanical energy is also added to help momentum.

Bionic Technology with Powered Plantar Flexion

By using robotics to replicate the calf muscles and Achilles tendon, the BiOM feels and functions like no other prostheses. With each step, the BiOM provides a powered push-off which propels the wearer forward. It is that robotic effort that enables the BiOM to normalize both the gait and metabolic demands to that of non-amputees.

It is the only prosthesis in the world that does not depend on the wearer’s energy. For the first time, the prosthesis is driving the human, instead of the other way around.

Powered plantar flexion is the transformation point where prosthetics become bionic. The BiOM is the only device in commercial production that achieves bionic functionality where robotics effectively emulate natural movement.

BiOM Resolves the Three Clinical Issues of Amputees

There are three clinical challenges facing people with amputations that limit their mobility.

1) They use more energy to walk, so they are more tired at the end of the day.

2) They walk more slowly.

3) They feel less stable on their feet.

BiOM powered walking resolves all three issues:

1) Walk with natural energy.

The BiOM robotic muscle power during toe-off requires less energy and walks with greater ease. The Mobility with the BiOM requires the same metabolic energy used by non-amputees.

2) Smooth, natural gait at varied cadence.

The BiOM provides more power when you walk faster – less when you walk slower. It delivers a natural gait at variable speeds like other prostheses have never been able to achieve.

3) Greater stability

Users are able to negotiate stairs and inclines with increased confidence and stability due to improved articulation and the design’s ability to mechanically yield and conform.

Source : http://www.iwalk.com/Prosthetists.html

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