Firm Strives to Give Amputees a Natural Gait

April 13, 2004 | Source: Washington Post

Victhom Human Bionics has developed an above-knee prosthetic leg that functions like an amputee’s lost limb.

It uses a motor-driven knee and a complex system — sensors and microprocessor — that gives it the uncanny ability to move and bend naturally.

The sensors transmit information to the microprocessor, which picks out a suitable walking pattern and sends instructions to the knee’s electric motor, which moves the leg in much the same way that afferent neurons and leg muscles work together to choreograph movement.

To fully integrate the artificial knee with the amputee’s body, researchers will use electrodes that capture neural signals, known as electroneurograms, and send them to an electronic “translator,” also implanted in the stump. This device will transform the neural signals into clear electrical signals and transmit them wirelessly through the skin to the microprocessor in the artificial leg.