Boots made for walkin’

Of the 700,000 new stroke cases each year, only 37% regain the ability to walk. That means more the 440,000 people requiring mobility assis­tance are added to the over­bur­dened health­care system annu­ally — and that’s just stroke patients.

Reha­bil­i­ta­tion is obvi­ously a key com­po­nent to changing these sta­tis­tics, but without quan­ti­ta­tive data not much can change.

A team of under­grad­uate mechan­ical engi­neering stu­dents* in Con­stan­tinos Mavroidis’ lab saw these sta­tis­tics as more than enough reason to develop a device that could aid phys­ical ther­a­pists in their attempt to help patients walk again.

With the help of graduate-​​student co-​​advisors Elias Bras­sitos and Ozer Unluhis­ar­cikli, the team cre­ated the Triple hinge Ankle-​​foot Exoskeleton for Lower Extremity Reha­bil­i­ta­tion. That’s some­thing of a mouthful, so like all good engi­neers, they came up with a rel­e­vant acronym: TrAvELER.

TrAv­ELER, which rehab patients wear around their ankle/​lower leg, uses three dif­ferent types of sen­sors (an accelerom­eter, an encoder, and a force sensor) to gen­erate data about a person’s gait. PTs can use this data to tailor and track an indi­vidual patient’s therapy and progress.

The device also works in con­junc­tion with another project out of Mavroidis’ lab -  a reha­bil­i­ta­tion exoskeleton called ANdROS.

By under­standing the way a stroke patient suc­cess­fully regains the ability to walk, this work also has the poten­tial to inform better treat­ments for the other 440,000.

The project won one of the two Best MIE Cap­stone Project Awards in Fall 2011.

*Amy Sauger, Mary Chenard, Kevin Davids, Kim Masi,  and Axel K Paganakis.

 

Photo cour­tesy of the research team.