Novel Technology Powers Prostheses Using Compressed Air Generated Through Walking

Sep, 2022 - By WMR

Novel Technology Powers Prostheses Using Compressed Air Generated Through Walking

Researchers have developed a pneumatic extra handy limb that grasps things and is powered by only compressed air gathered from footsteps of the wearer

Powered prosthetics are increasingly becoming advanced with growing technological development; however, these devices are often bulky and require heavy batteries for power. Now a team of researchers at Rice University have developed a new system of pneumatic limb that is powered by only compressed air produced when the wearer walks.

The new system is inexpensive, light weight with machine-washable setup that consists of three major components, an inflatable textile arm, a storage bladder for energy and a set of textile pumps that are open-cell-foam-filled. The arm stays curled surround one hip of the wearer, the storage bladder has to be worn surrounding the waist and the set of pumps are used as an insole of the shoes.  The bladder is connected to the pumps through air hoses and it connects the bladder to the arm. When the user walks around the pumps push air to the bladder as they are compressed due to the body weight of the wearer. The bladder then releases this air into the arm with only one button and this further causes the arm to extend out of the body.

When the arm is positioned, with the press of another button, the air is released which causes the arm to curl back in surrounding the object. The researchers has put in a silicon coating due to which the grip on the object is maintained, which allows the object to be carried around from place to place. To release the object, the user has to release air back in the arm, which causes it to extend out again.

Furthermore, the researchers have developed another version of this system, which allows user to lift up to 4.5 kg (10lb) weight without requiring use of any of arm-muscle strength. The researchers are now working making the system automated so that the not all steps of these actions require manual activation.

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