People who have full functionality of their body don’t always realize how fortunate they truly are.  This notion is highlighted by a gloomy statistic; 61.4% of people without disabilities report their health to be “excellent,” while only 28.4% of people with disabilities report the same1.

The research team led by Dr. Mohammad Rastgaar at MTU is leading the effort to improve the lifestyle of those living with a leg amputation disability.  Dr. Rastgaar will utilize the Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award to bring to life his design for a new powered ankle-foot prosthesis2.

Dr. Rastgaar’s cutting-edge prosthesis will seek to mimic a human ankle by allowing for a multi-planar range of motion and adjusting based on an amputee’s gait information.

As Founding Director of the Human-Interactive Robotics Laboratory (HIRoLab), Dr. Rastgaar’s projects have helped to further our understanding of gait through various experiments with human subjects and modeling.  His projects have included exploring the role of the ankle in turning, estimating the human ankle’s mechanical impedance, and analyzing the spatial differences of the foot and leg between a straight walk and step turn.

Dr. Rastgaar’s lab has also been an active participant in Michigan Tech’s Summer Youth Program, in which pre-college students experience college life while participating in exploration activities, such as the HIRoLab’s EMG-Controlled Manipulator Educational Program.

With funding from the CAREER Award, Dr. Rastgaar is seeking to move beyond the single degree of freedom that typical prostheses provide. The intelligent design of the prosthesis will allow for adjustments to be made so that the user will walk more naturally over time.  After further research, Dr. Rastgaar plans to test the refined prosthesis on amputees at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN2.

Ultimately, Dr. Rastgaar wants nothing more than to help amputees in need.  “I wanted to help people in a very direct way,” he mentioned to Michigan Tech News.  “Eventually, I’d like to commercialize our prosthesis.  It should be helping amputees walk2.”

For amputees everywhere, this means one thing – they are one step closer to their goal of taking another step.

References

  1. Ficanha E. M., Rastgaar Aagaah M., Kaufman K. R., “Multi-axis Capability for Powered Ankle-foot Prostheses”, Neuro-Robotics: From Brain Machine Interfaces to Rehabilitation Robotics, Panagiotis Artemiadis (ed.), Springer, New York, 2014.
  2. Goodrich, Marcia. “Rastgaar Receives CAREER Award to Develop Ankle-Foot Prosthetic Robot.” Michigan Tech News. Michigan Technological University, 11 Apr. 2014. Web. 12 Oct. 2014.
 
 
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