A team from South Korea has succeeded in developing a sensor that allows lower limb amputees to control robotic prosthetic legs as they want, just like human limbs.
It is expected that this research will contribute significantly to rehabilitation and improving the quality of life.
With the recent rise in lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, there is an increasing number of lower limb amputees. The lasting effects of lower limb amputation are not only limited to physical disability, but also to psychological disability. To address this problem, bionic lower limb technology has been developed in recent years to replace the missing leg with robotic prosthetics.
The most important thing in developing robotic prosthetic legs is to consistently perform lower limb function as intended by the amputee. In order to do this, the ability to quickly and accurately obtain amputees' biological signals is needed. The most convenient method is to use superficial, imperceptible muscle sensors. However, these sensors are difficult to use in practice.
In this context, a research team led by Professor Sang Hoon Lee, in the Department of Robotics Engineering at Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology in South Korea, has developed a sensor. The study was published in the journal npj Flexible Electronics.
The imperceptible sensor, developed by the research team, mimics a serpentine structure to provide flexibility while achieving breathability and adhesion. Thus, the sensor can be applied to different amputated parts of the body and can be used repeatedly over a long period of time. Furthermore, in combination with a wireless module, the sensor obtains real-time signals generated when amputees walk with robotic prosthetics, sockets and silicone liners.
To verify the sensor's function, the research team attached it to a lower limb amputee and evaluated the sensor's function by recording the amputee's muscle signals. The results showed that the sensor succeeded in obtaining high-quality real-time muscle signals of the amputee walking in different environments (on flat ground, up and down slopes, and on stairs) and the sensor transmitted the signals wirelessly to help the amputee walk.
Moreover, the research team confirmed that the sensor's performance in acquiring the signal is better than that of other commercial sensors. In this regard, the research team expects the sensor to be applied across several wearable technologies, as well as precise control of robotic prosthetic legs and hands based on biometric signals.
“There are many restrictions on the daily activities and living of amputees because prosthetic legs that can be controlled as the wearers intended are not available,” Professor Lee said.
He concluded, “Based on the results of this research, we will continue to conduct more research and develop electronic limbs that can perform sensory and motor functions, just like human limbs, to help amputees enjoy all activities of daily life.”
#Developing #electronic #limbs #perform #functions #similar #human #limbs