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Quantum steps ahead for leg orthotics design

Connect, no. 116, January/February 2002, p.1

Data collection in progress for the European project
Data collection in progress for the European project

A dramatic resurgence of interest into the design of external artificial limb supports is underway at TWI.

Orthoses, as they are known, contribute several benefits to the disabled including full stabilisation of paralysed limbs and weight bearing to relieve existing loads. But to date advances in design have been based on empirical iteration.

This trial and error approach could soon be a thing of the past following this recent work within a Framework 5 European project into the analysis of forces transmitted during the complex ambulatory process we know as walking.

The most recent work set out to devise a means of monitoring axial loads and moments on leg orthoses without interfering with the patient's walking ability.

The main objective was to publish this data in a form which future designers could readily use and also to promote effective International Standards based on the data.

The force analysis involved categorising the orthosis into generic types; ankle-foot, knee-ankle-foot and hip-knee-ankle-foot.

Initially the results of this work were made available to small and medium size enterprises specifically involved in orthosis manufacture. However, to satisfy wider social objectives of dissemination, public access has also been setup.

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