As powered prostheses are becoming more common, especially for lower limbs, more and more professionals are required to tune these devices. While powered prostheses can give the user new capabilities, having them work with the natural gait of the wearer takes time and repeat tunings to get things working just right. At the University of North Carolina/North Carolina Statue University Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering engineers have developed a “cyber expert system” (CES) that may one day replace human experts for tuning of lower limb prostheses.
The system is a software solution that can be built into just about any lower limb power prosthetic to have it auto-tune itself. It primarily monitors the angles that the knee and ankle joints reach during different walking tasks and adjusts accordingly to match the user’s individual needs. The system can switch its actions based on the user’s weight and gait, and make minor adjustments throughout each step cycle.
In an initial study involving two amputees and two healthy volunteers, the system has been found to be comparable in its ability to tune to the user’s needs compared to professional experts. While it was better at setting the proper joint angles, it was worse than humans at adjusting trunk sway.
Study in Annals of Biomedical Engineering: A Cyber Expert System for Auto-Tuning Powered Prosthesis Impedance Control Parameters…