Prosthetic limbs are like modern day canes for handicaps. And their design is getting better and more personalized for helping people with limb defects in a more comfortable walk. Unfortunately, prosthetic organs are still a far cry from the real thing. A prototype artificial ankle designed by Michael Goldfarb, a mechanical engineering professor at Vanderbilt is a better version of an ordinary prosthetic ankle as it can identify the surface on which it lands and adapts to the user’s gait.
As we know, our ankles play an important role in walking. They lift our toe accordingly so it doesn’t scuff against the grounds, minimize the shock by controlling foot motion when it lands, and comfort us on the rough or bumpy surface. The aim of technology builders is to replicate the work done by an ankle so that every handicap can walk on their own. The prosthetic limbs designed by Goldfarb not only provide shock absorption but it has sensors that senses and classifies motion and determines how each step must be taken.
“This device first and foremost adapts to what’s around it”, Goldfarb said in a documentary about prosthesis. Mike Sasser, a veteran who tested this device had all good things to say: “I have tried hydraulic ankles that had no sort of microprocessors, and they have been clunky, heavy and unforgiving for an active person. This isn’t that.”
Right now, it is just a prototype and it runs on wired power. Once it is commercialized, walking on one’s own feet will not be a dream for many!