Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) robotics researchers have developed an active orthotic device using soft plastics and composite materials, instead of a rigid exoskeleton.
The robotic device can achieve natural motions in a person's ankle by combining the soft materials with pneumatic artificial muscles (PAMs), lightweight sensors, and advanced control software.
The same technique could be used to create rehabilitative devices for other body joints or even to create soft exoskeltons that increase the strength of the wearer, according to CMU professor Yong-Lae Park. The robotic device can also be used to help people with neuromuscular disorders of the foot and ankle associated with cerebral palsy, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, multiple sclerosis, or stroke.
The soft orthotic device enabled the researchers to mimic the biological structure of the lower leg. The device has artificial tendons attached to four PAMs, which correspond to three muscles in the foreleg and one in the back that control ankle motion.
Park says additional work will be necessary to improve the wearability of the device.
From Carnegie Mellon University
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