A team of mechanical engineering students from the University of Cincinnati (UC), Ohio, has created a spring-assisted leg exoskeleton that will provide extra support during moving from a sit-to-stand position, and vice versa, for patients who,through age or injury, have limited mobility.
The team first completed a movement analysis study using markers on a human body to collect data about muscle activity during the process of moving from sitting and standing positions and created an animated model from the collected data before building a prototype of the exoskeleton. The results of the experiment can help researchers design the exoskeleton to supplement the capability of the user. Additionally, researchers are exploring muscle activity to produce a suit that will work in cooperation with the natural movement of the user, rather than forcing a predetermined motion. Future development may include building supports to enable movement of ankles and hips, as well as improving the fluidity of movement.
A UC computer science student and professor are also working on the project to determine how a brain-computer interface (BCI) can be used to operate the exoskeleton.
Gaurav Mukherjee, MS, a UC mechanical engineering student, presented the interdisciplinary research at the International Human-Centered Robotics Symposium in Cincinnati on November 15.
Editor’s note: This story was adapted from materials provided by the University of Cincinnati.