An ankle-foot emulation system for the study of human walking biomechanics

S. K. Au, P. Dilworth, and H. M. Herr. An ankle-foot emulation system for the study of human walking biomechanics, Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, Orlando, FL, pp. 2939-2945, May 2006.


Although below-knee prostheses have been commercially available for some time, today’s devices are completely passive, and consequently, their mechanical properties remain fixed with walking speed and terrain. A lack of understanding of the ankle-foot biomechanics and the dynamic interaction between an amputee and a prosthesis is one of the main obstacles in the development of a biomimetic ankle-foot prosthesis. In this paper, we present a novel ankle-foot emulator system for the study of human walking biomechanics. The emulator system is comprised of a high performance, force-controllable, robotic anklefoot worn by an amputee interfaced to a mobile computing unit secured around his waist. We show that the system is capable of mimicking normal ankle-foot walking behaviour. An initial pilot study supports the hypothesis that the emulator may provide a more natural gait than a conventional passive prosthesis.

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