Researchers at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) are developing a force feedback device to help users of lower-limb prostheses avoid falls. The vibrotactile feedback device attaches to the prosthesis and produces vibrations at the skin-socket interface to simulate collisions of the prosthesis with objects. The feedback device can be used in rehabilitation training to teach fall avoidance strategies. One part of the vibrotactile feedback device controls a small metal rod that produces a vibration and a knocking sound that can warn a prosthesis user of a fall when the prosthesis collides with an object. A pair of motors at the top of the device also vibrate to provide a similar warning.
The research is being conducted at the Robotics and Interactive Systems Engineering (RISE) Lab in the CSULB Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. Panadda Marayong, PhD, an associate professor and the director of the RISE Lab is leading the project to study technology that improves the human body’s physical and sensory functions, or human-machine collaborative systems. The research is a joint effort between CSULB and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Long Beach Healthcare System.
“We are using this device right now for rehabilitation training to basically enhance the perception at the residual limb that the recent amputee would feel,” Marayong told the Press-Telegram. “We use that to develop training methods to help the patient to hopefully overcome the event of a fall.”