Soft Orthotic Device for Ankle-Foot Rehabilitation

A team of researchers from Carnegie Mellon University, Harvard University, the University of Southern California, MIT, and BioSensics have developed a soft, wearable device that mimics the muscles, tendons, and ligaments of the lower leg. The robotic device would be suitable for aiding people with neuromuscular disorders of the foot and ankle associated with cerebral palsy, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, multiple sclerosis, and stroke. The device is composed of soft plastics and composite materials, pneumatic artificial muscles (PAMs), lightweight sensors made of a touch-sensitive artificial skin, and advanced control software. The ankle is naturally capable of a complicated three-dimensional motion, but most rigid exoskeletons allow only a single pivot point. The new prototype can generate an ankle range of sagittal motion of 27 degrees - sufficient for a normal walking gait.