In passive technologies, as the thigh moves forward, inertia opens the knee joint, the artificial shin swings forward, and, when the entire structure locks, the wearer can pass his or her weight over it. The feet are usually not "smart" in adjusting to terrain.
"We intend to develop a much more efficient device, with sensors placed at strategic points along foot and leg, that will enable a more normal and efficient walking gait," says Kozlowski. A proper limb motion will return energy to the wearer instead of draining it, he says. One challenge to be addressed is developing a power source light enough for an amputee to feel comfortable carrying it, he says.
Reducing pressure sores
Sandia researcher Mark Vaughn, who also will participate in the project, says another goal is to make a self-adjusting prosthetic socket that will prevent pressure sores caused by the device rubbing against the residual limb. The device will change shape to match the residual limbs swelling over the course of a day.
"The funding gives us a couple of man-centuries of Russian experimenters to throw at the problem, and its right down their alley," says Vaughn. "Theyre mechanical guys. We should get quite a bit of accommodation."
Approximately 120 Russian scientists formerly employed designing nuclear weapons are expected to participate in the project, funded by DOEs Initiatives for Proliferation Prevention. Says Sandia manager for international initiatives Bob Huelskamp, "Sandia generally thinks its impressive if, say, five of its scientists leave to start an entrepreneurial enterprise.
This prosthetics project means that, at a minimum, dozens, and if the project takes off, triple figures of Russians formerly in the weapons-of-mass-destruction business are moving out of that into a humanitarianly useful, and hopefully commercially successful, business v
DOE/Sandia National Laboratories