Spaulding Evaluates New, Active Prosthesis Developed by MIT


Spaulding's Motion Analysis Lab partners with MIT engineers to evlautae a new type of active prosthesis.

In a study that has significant implications for ankle-foot amputees and the prosthetics industry, researchers at Spaulding’s Motion Analysis Lab analyzed gait mechanics and metabolic consumption in 12 transtibial amputees, comparing the functionality of a Ceterus flexfoot (a state-of-the-art passive prosthesis) against a new, active prosthesis called “Biom.” Developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the Biom is a novel ankle-foot prosthesis that has been designed to mimic the behavior of a biologically intact ankle.

By changing the rigidity of the springs that control dorsiflexion and plantarflexion, the Biom can be adapted to each individual’s preferences and needs as well as different walking conditions (ie soft ground, ramps or stairs). A controlled motor generates mechanical power at late stance and push off to improve energy efficiency during locomotion.

Under the leadership of Paolo Bonato, PhD, the Spaulding team performed detailed analysis of motion and energy expenditure while subjects walked at a self-selected comfortable walking speed. Their results showed that the Biom achieved an increased range of motion at the ankle as well as power generation comparable to individuals with an intact ankle. Spaulding also documented an average decrease of 9% in energy consumption when the subjects were walking with the Biom.

These results demonstrate that an active prosthesis like the Biom enables amputees to achieve a gait pattern that is closer to individuals with a biologically intact ankle-foot complex and significantly lowers the metabolic cost of such mobility.

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