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Study shows need for adaptive powered knee prosthesis to assist amputees

Research into wearable robotics shows how amputees wearing such devices adapted when presented with a real-world challenge: carrying a weighted backpack. "The device we tested was a powered knee prosthesis -- it has a motor to actuate the knee and a fixed ankle joint," said researcher Andrea Brandt. Five people of varied ages and physical attributes were recruited to take part in the study. After walking on a lab treadmill both with and without a backpack adding 20 percent of their body weight, and with and without the load-bearing power settings, the study subjects reported having more difficulties when carrying the load with the prosthetic device set at the normal setting. The results could help device manufacturers and clinicians expand the utility of these important devices, and could help researchers develop smarter controllers that adapt to real-world demands.

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