Bionic Foot Mimics Flexion to Aid Gait, Users Walk Easier (Video)
Apr 23, 2012 13:01
Traditional lower leg and foot prosthetics give off the feel of walking in the sand. That's because users can't push off with that foot, and there's no muscle power of an Achilles tendon to pull against. Except until now. The BiOM prosthetic, uses robot power to help.
As it is, modern carbon fiber prosthetics require as much as an extra 50 percent effort to move as a natural limb, which makes the wearer walk slowly and with more effrot.
"In order to understand what's unique, you have to understand the tech that's been broadly used for the past 25 years," iWalk CEO Tim McCarthy told Forbes. "The existing systems are grossly inefficient, which creates a gait asymmetry because users have to accommodate energy deficiency. This results in a lot of different health problems, such as weight gain and diabetes."
The BiOM prosthetic, relies on a system known as a powered plantar flexion to help propel the user along. It uses a series of motors, and springs and sensors to replicate calf muscles and the Achilles tendon, which will be able to propel the foot through the step instead of just lugging it along.
"What BiOM does is replicate the action of the foot and ankle, Achilles tendon, and lower calf," McCarthy said. "By emulating the bone and soft tissues, it can provide exactly the right amount of energy needed, which makes it as efficient as people with intact limbs. People have told me that it feels like they have their ankle back."