Development of robotic lower-limb prosthetic and orthotic devices

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University of Alabama Libraries

Human lower limbs serve important biomechanical functions, e.g., supporting human body weight, providing power for locomotion, etc. A large number of individuals, however, live with the impairment of such functions. Such functional impairment may be associated with limb loss caused by amputation, or functional degeneration associated with aging or musculoskeletal/neural pathologies (e.g. stroke). Consequently, such individuals are more likely to suffer from impaired mobility and live in a sedentary lifestyle, seriously affecting their independence and quality of life. The research in this thesis seeks to address this problem through the development of actively-powered robotic assistive devices that restore or augment the lost or weakened limb functions. Specifically, two assistive devices are presented, including a robotic knee orthosis that assists the wearer’s knee motion in sit-to-stand transfer and other locomotive functions, and a robotic transtibial prosthesis that restores the lost ankle-foot functions for below-knee amputees. In the development of these devices, the design specifications were determined according to the desired locomotive functions and related biomechanical data. Subsequently, the actuation approaches were selected, along with the corresponding actuation mechanisms. The devices have been proven to provide the desired kinematic and kinetic performances through detailed analysis. In the following detailed design phase, 3D solid models were created for the robotic systems and individual components. Finite-Element Analysis was also performed to ensure the strength and rigidity of the structure under load. Finally, prototypes of the devices were fabricated and assembled, and experiments have been devised to measure their kinetic performances in use.

Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
Mechanical engineering