- Departement Mechanica, Faculteit Toegepaste Wetenschappen, Vrije Universiteit Brussel en Flanders Make (Brussels, Belgium)
- IRCCS Fondazione Don Carlo Gnocchi (Florence, Italy)
- Össur Global (Reykjavik, Iceland)
- The BioRobotics Institute (IUVO), Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna (Pisa, Italy)
- Université Catholique de Louvain, Institute of Mechanics, Materials and Civil Engineering (Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium)
Goal: The evaluation of a modular lower leg prosthesis in persons with transtibial and femoral amputation.
Short summary: On average, we take 10,000 steps a day. We don't realize how many times we take the stairs or stand up from a chair. We cross uneven footpaths as if it didn't take any effort and we constantly avoid obstacles. For people with an amputation of the lower leg, these daily tasks are no easy task. Today's prostheses are passive and do not meet the requirements of the user. This reduces their quality of life and increases the risk of co-morbidity. It is therefore important that new prostheses are developed with the aim of compensating for the loss of functionality caused by the amputation.
The Cyberlegs prosthesis is a modular prosthesis which is characterized by an integrated motor in the knee and ankle joints. If these motors are activated at the right time, it supports movements requiring concentric and eccentric muscle strength; for example, concentric quadriceps activity during knee extension when a chair is upright and eccentric quadriceps activity during knee flexion when sitting down. In addition, sensors in the sole of the shoe and on the limbs register the gait pattern and the position of the user in space. This information is analysed by a built-in computer in order to make individual adjustments to the control of the prosthesis.
Technology is very fast and many prostheses are in the development phase. In the literature, however, there are major differences in the way in which such prototypes are evaluated. For this reason, this research focuses on the one hand on writing standardized guidelines and recommendations for evaluating new prostheses. On the other hand, we are implementing these on the Cyberlegs prosthesis in order to register the shortcomings of the current prototype, and to look for an explanation and solution for an improved version. We take a holistic approach by reporting biomechanical, physiological and psychological parameters. The current project is moving away from fundamental research and tries to bring out as much clinical relevance as possible. In the future, the focus will be more on the human-robot interaction and the integration of artificial intelligence.