Optimal Prosthesis Design with Energy Regeneration


The goals of this research are three-fold: (1) To develop new approaches for the simulation of human limb control; (2) To develop new approaches for optimizing prosthetic limb control, capture energy during walking, and store that energy to lengthen useful prosthesis life; and (3) To develop a prosthesis prototype. In order to accomplish these high-level goals, the following specific objectives will be pursued: (1) Study both able-bodied gait and amputee gait in our human motion lab; (2) Develop mathematical models for human motion control to provide a foundation for artificial limb control; (3) Develop electronic prosthesis controls; (4) Develop new approaches for optimizing prosthesis design parameters based on computer intelligence; (5) Fabricate a prosthesis prototype and test the prototype in a robotic system; (6) Conduct human trials of the prosthesis prototype.

If successful, the results of this research will lead to new methods for optimizing complex, inter-related subsystems, such as those that are characteristic of prostheses. The human leg operates by transferring energy between the knee, which absorbs energy, and the ankle, which produces energy. The new prosthesis design that results from this research will mimic the energy transfer of the human leg. Inter-related engineering systems are typically designed and optimized independently of each other. This results in designs that are overly conservative, that do not interact optimally, and that limit performance, adaptability, and robustness. This research will develop integrated optimization algorithms that consider the inter-dependence of related subsystems (for example, hardware, software, and control). Current knee prostheses do not restore normal gait, and this contributes to degenerative joint disease among amputees. This research will develop new design and optimization approaches that will allow prostheses to perform more robustly, to perform closer to natural human gait, and to last longer between battery charges than current prostheses.