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Proceedings Paper

New horizons for orthotic and prosthetic technology: artificial muscle for ambulation
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Paper Abstract

The rehabilitation community is at the threshold of a new age in which orthotic and prosthetic devices will no longer be separate, lifeless mechanisms, but intimate extensions of the human body-structurally, neurologically, and dynamically. In this paper we discuss scientific and technological advances that promise to accelerate the merging of body and machine, including the development of actuator technologies that behave like muscle and control methodologies that exploit principles of biological movement. We present a state-of-the-art device for leg rehabilitation: a powered ankle-foot orthosis for stroke, cerebral palsy, or multiple sclerosis patients. The device employs a forcecontrollable actuator and a biomimetic control scheme that automatically modulates ankle impedance and motive torque to satisfy patient-specific gait requirements. Although the device has some clinical benefits, problems still remain. The force-controllable actuator comprises an electric motor and a mechanical transmission, resulting in a heavy, bulky, and noisy mechanism. As a resolution of this difficulty, we argue that electroactive polymer-based artificial muscle technologies may offer considerable advantages to the physically challenged, allowing for joint impedance and motive force controllability, noise-free operation, and anthropomorphic device morphologies.

Paper Details

Date Published: 27 July 2004
PDF: 9 pages
Proc. SPIE 5385, Smart Structures and Materials 2004: Electroactive Polymer Actuators and Devices (EAPAD), (27 July 2004); doi: 10.1117/12.544510
Show Author Affiliations
Hugh M. Herr, MIT Media Lab. (United States)
Roy D. Kornbluh, SRI International (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 5385:
Smart Structures and Materials 2004: Electroactive Polymer Actuators and Devices (EAPAD)
Yoseph Bar-Cohen, Editor(s)

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