Biomechatronics | An Artificial Gastrocnemius for a Transtibial Prosthesis
Massachusetts institute of technology, MIT, MIT Media Lab, robotics, prosthetics, prostheses, exoskeletons, orthoses, orthosis, science, engineering, biomechanics, mechatronics,

An Artificial Gastrocnemius for a Transtibial Prosthesis


Human walking neuromechanical models show how each muscle works during normal, level-ground walking. They are mainly modeled with clutches and linear springs, and are able to capture dominant normal walking behavior. This suggests to us to use a series-elastic clutch at the knee joint for below-knee amputees. We have developed the powered ankle prosthesis, which generates enough force to enable a user to walk “normally.” However, amputees still have problems at the knee joint due to the lack of gastrocnemius, which works as an ankle-knee flexor and a plantar flexor. We hypothesize that metabolic cost and EMG patterns of an amputee with our powered ankle and virtual gastrocnemius will dramatically improve.


An artificial gastrocnemius for a transtibial prosthesis

A transtibial amputee does not have a functional gastrocnemius muscle, which affects the knee as well as the ankle joint. In this investigation, we developed a transtibial prosthesis comprising an artificial gastrocnemius mechanism as well as a powered ankle-foot device. A pilot study was conducted with a bilateral transtibial amputee walking at a self-selected speed. The trial compared muscle electromyography and metabolic cost data for the amputee while using the active gastrocnemius prosthesis and a conventional Flex-Foot prosthesis. The experimental data showed that the compensation for ankle-foot and gastrocnemius function offered by the active device resulted in a reduced metabolic cost for the amputee participant.

K. Endo, E. Swart, and H. M. Herr,
An artificial gastrocnemius for a transtibial prosthesis,
IEEE EMBC, 2009.