"Dr. Gregg, with the support of NIH, UT Dallas and UT Southwestern, has the potential to become a world-class researcher whose intellectual pursuits will radically change the future of prosthetic systems."
Much of the advancements in prosthetics and orthotics surround upgrades of the materials used for these devices, such as making them lighter and more flexible. These devices mimic human joints, but lack the ability to mimic the power generated from human muscles on able-bodied individuals. More recent advances include adding motors that generate force needed to respond to the wearer's environment, such as if someone is pushed; but they still lack the critical component of receiving input from the wearer or environment to adequately respond without falling.
Gregg proposes a new way to view and study the process of human walking: attaching sensors to mathematically meaningful locations on prostheses and orthotics that will allow the user to respond and control the device when their environment changes.
In addition, these devices would no longer require a team of physicians and physical rehabilitation specialists to spend significant amounts of time tuning and training each powered leg to the individual wearer.
"My vision is to have off-the-shelf robotic limbs that allow the owner to pick them up at a hospital or clinic, fit them on and walk off," he said. "Right now, we are nowhere close to that. It takes days of experimental tuning to get them to work properly, and then the movement is still less than ideal."
The New Innovator Award will cover testing of the new human phase variables on fully able-bodied people,
|Contact: LaKisha Ladson|
University of Texas at Dallas