Active Ankle-Foot Orthotic and Gait Monitor for Foot Drop
Nearly one million people in 2009 were discharged from the hospital with stroke as the primary diagnosis (Roger et al., Circulation 125(1):188-197. 2012). One of the many lasting side effects of a stroke can be foot drop, or an inability to dorsiflex the foot. In order to remedy this, many people wear an ankle-foot orthotic (AFO) post-stroke. Interviews with AFO users revealed that they frequently have difficulty walking on stairs and ramps, because the AFO limits the plantarflexion that is natural in navigating those ground types. An active AFO that adapts to changing ground terrain would provide a more natural gait pattern for these individuals, if it could be designed to respond appropriately to upcoming terrain. In order to respond to terrain, the device must first identify the terrain.
Our work has led to the development of a new type of ankle foot orthotic for people with foot drop, and an accompanying system that can be used to monitor gait and predict upcoming terrain. The active ankle foot orthotic system integrates terrain sensing into an ankle foot orthotic that can adjust the user's foot position depending on the type of terrain that is approaching. This work has also led to the development of a stand-alone terrain and gait monitor that can be used for rehabilitation.
This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Award No. BES-0527358. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.
Partial support for this work was provided by an RIT-RGHS Alliance Seed Grant.