Biomechanical design of a powered ankle-foot prosthesis

S. K. Au, J. Weber, and H. Herr. Biomechanical design of a powered ankle-foot prosthesis, IEEE 10th International Conference on Rehabilitation Robotics, pp. 298–303, 2007.


Although the potential benefits of a powered anklefoot prosthesis have been well documented, no one has successfully developed and verified that such a prosthesis can improve amputee gait compared to a conventional passiveelastic prosthesis. One of the main hurdles that hinder such a development is the challenge of building an ankle-foot prosthesis that matches the size and weight of the intact ankle, but still provides a sufficiently large instantaneous power output and torque to propel an amputee. In this paper, we present a novel, powered ankle-foot prosthesis that overcomes these design challenges. The prosthesis comprises an unidirectional spring, configured in parallel with a forcecontrollable actuator with series elasticity. With this architecture, the ankle-foot prosthesis matches the size and weight of the human ankle, and is shown to be satisfying the restrictive design specifications dictated by normal human ankle walking biomechanics.

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