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Stance-Phase Controlled Knee-Ankle-Foot Orthotic

Background

Knee-Ankle-Foot orthoses (KAFOs), also referred to as long-leg braces, are often prescribed to patients with lower-limb muscle weakness to assist or enable mobility. Compared to Knee-Ankle-Foot orthoses with locked knees, which result in stiff-legged gait, stance-phase controlled knees facilitate stance-phase stability but also normal swing-phase kinematics. This increases walking speed and gait efficiency while reducing compensatory motions. However, the disadvantages of current stance-phase controlled knees include higher cost, more difficult Knee-Ankle-Foot orthoses fabrication and fitting, and bulkiness.

Technology

In order to address these limitations, researchers have initiated the development of a unique new stance-phase controlled orthotic knee joint and created a working prototype of a stance-phase controlled knee. The basis of the knee joint is a controller that relies on the force/moment signals to activate/deactivate the knee locking mechanism.

Applications

Knee-Ankle-Foot orthoses are often prescribed to patients with lower-limb muscle weakness to assist or enable mobility. Traditionally, individuals with impairments resulting from spinal cord injury, poliomyelitis and spina bifida have benefited from Knee-Ankle-Foot orthoses. Although not as common, Knee-Ankle-Foot orthoses have also been used with stroke patients and children with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. The use of stance-phase controlled technologies has usually been limited to spinal cord injury and poliomyelitis patients.

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