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Sci Rep. 2016 Feb 9;6:19983. doi: 10.1038/srep19983.

Robotic lower limb prosthesis design through simultaneous computer optimizations of human and prosthesis costs.

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Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, The Ohio State University, Columbus, USA.


Robotic lower limb prostheses can improve the quality of life for amputees. Development of such devices, currently dominated by long prototyping periods, could be sped up by predictive simulations. In contrast to some amputee simulations which track experimentally determined non-amputee walking kinematics, here, we explicitly model the human-prosthesis interaction to produce a prediction of the user's walking kinematics. We obtain simulations of an amputee using an ankle-foot prosthesis by simultaneously optimizing human movements and prosthesis actuation, minimizing a weighted sum of human metabolic and prosthesis costs. The resulting Pareto optimal solutions predict that increasing prosthesis energy cost, decreasing prosthesis mass, and allowing asymmetric gaits all decrease human metabolic rate for a given speed and alter human kinematics. The metabolic rates increase monotonically with speed. Remarkably, by performing an analogous optimization for a non-amputee human, we predict that an amputee walking with an appropriately optimized robotic prosthesis can have a lower metabolic cost--even lower than assuming that the non-amputee's ankle torques are cost-free.

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