What is it about?

This paper discusses the design and creation of a new device used to treat drop-foot. Drop-foot is a condition in which a person is unable to lift their foot up properly, causing it to hang down whilst their walking, which can increase the risk of them falling. The most common approach to treating drop-foot is an approach known as functional electrical stimulation (FES), in which electricity is used to artificially contract the leg muscles to make the foot move upwards. However, this has the disadvantage that when this is carried out for a long period of time the leg muscles can get tired. The approach discussed in this paper is to reduce this effect by combining FES with a soft robotic device known as a pneumatic artificial muscle. This is attached at one end to the knee and the other to the foot so that when it contracts the foot is lifted up.

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Why is it important?

Drop-foot can result from a number of different conditions, including stroke and Parkinson's. Devices such as the one discussed in this paper have the potential to improve the lives of people with this condition by allowing them to be more independent, as well as reducing the risk of injury.

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: A hybrid orthosis combining functional electrical stimulation and soft robotics for improved assistance of drop-foot, Medical Engineering & Physics, May 2023, Elsevier,
DOI: 10.1016/j.medengphy.2023.103979.
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