Springs in the Step: Prosthetic Foot Mimics Ankle’s Movement

Prosthetic limbs can rarely mimic the awesome power and functionality of the human body, but as technology gets more advanced, replacement body parts are getting closer to the originals. This prosthetic lower leg mimics the spring of the human ankle’s step, adding in a bit of a power boost to the user’s gait without adding a lot of bulk to the prosthesis itself.

The Ankle Mimicking Prosthetic Foot (or AMP-Foot) was developed by a team of researchers at Belgium’s Vrije Universiteit Brussel. It includes a small actuator which stores power in integrated springs. When the user takes a step, that power is released in a manner similar to that seen in a natural ankle.

The AMP-Foot has force sensors which can tell what position the the leg is in, so the actuator knows when to store energy and when to release it. The AMP-Foot is far lighter than other prostheses with integrated actuators thanks to its lower power usage. It is being tested with amputees, with one impressive test being documented in the video above.

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See more in Cybernetics or under Technology. December, 2012.