Biomechatronics | Powered Ankle-Foot Prostheses
Massachusetts institute of technology, MIT, MIT Media Lab, robotics, prosthetics, prostheses, exoskeletons, orthoses, orthosis, science, engineering, biomechanics, mechatronics,

Powered Ankle-Foot Prostheses


The Biomechatronics Group is studying the clinical effects of powered transtibial prostheses on transtibial amputee gait.


Bionic ankle-foot prosthesis normalizes walking gait for persons with leg amputation

Over time, leg prostheses have improved in design, but have been incapable of actively adapting to different walking velocities in a manner comparable to a biological limb. People with a leg amputation using such commercially available passive-elastic prostheses require significantly more metabolic energy to walk at the same velocities, prefer to walk slower and have abnormal biomechanics compared with non-amputees. A bionic prosthesis has been developed that emulates the function of a biological ankle during level-ground walking, specifically providing the net positive work required for a range of walking velocities. We compared metabolic energy costs, preferred velocities and biomechanical patterns of seven people with a unilateral transtibial amputation using the bionic prosthesis and using their own passive elastic prosthesis to those of seven non-amputees during level-ground walking. Compared with using a passive-elastic prosthesis, using the bionic prosthesis decreased metabolic cost by 8 per cent, increased trailing prosthetic leg mechanical work by 57 per cent and decreased the leading biological leg mechanical work by 10 per cent, on average, across walking velocities of 0.75–1.75 m s21 and increased preferred walking velocity by 23 per cent. Using the bionic prosthesis resulted in metabolic energy costs, preferred walking velocities and biomechanical patterns that were not significantly different from people without an amputation.

H. M. Herr and A. M. Grabowski.
Bionic ankle–foot prosthesis normalizes gait for persons with leg amputation,
Proc. R. Soc. B. 2012.


Effects of a powered ankle-foot prosthesis on kinetic loading of the contralateral limb: a case series

Lower-extremity amputees face a series of potentially serious post-operative complications. Among these are increased risk of further amputations, excessive stress on the unaffected and residual limbs, and discomfort at the human-prosthesis interface. Currently, conventional, passive prostheses have made strides towards alleviating the risk of experiencing complications, but we believe that the limit of “dumb” elastic prostheses has been reached; in order to make further strides we must integrate “smart” technology in the form of sensors and actuators into lower-limb prostheses. This project compares the elements of shock absorption and socket pressure between passive and active ankle-foot prostheses. It is an attempt to quantitatively evaluate the patient’s comfort.