Adapting Semi-Active Prostheses to Real-World Movements: Sensing and Controlling the Dynamic Mean Ankle Moment Arm with a Variable-Stiffness Foot on Ramps and Stairs

Published in Sensors, 2021

Recommended citation: Jennifer K Leestma, Katherine Heidi Fehr, Peter G Adamczyk. (2021). "Adapting Semi-Active Prostheses to Real-World Movements: Sensing and Controlling the Dynamic Mean Ankle Moment Arm with a Variable-Stiffness Foot on Ramps and Stairs Sensors. 21(18). https://www.mdpi.com/1262848

(1) Background: Semi-active prosthetic feet can provide adaptation in different circumstances, enabling greater function with less weight and complexity than fully powered prostheses. However, determining how to control semi-active devices is still a challenge. The dynamic mean ankle moment arm (DMAMA) provides a suitable biomechanical metric, as its simplicity matches that of a semi-active device. However, it is unknown how stiffness and locomotion modes affect DMAMA, which is necessary to create closed-loop controllers for semi-active devices. In this work, we develop a method to use only a prosthesis-embedded load sensor to measure DMAMA and classify locomotion modes, with the goal of achieving mode-dependent, closed-loop control of DMAMA using a variable-stiffness prosthesis. We study how stiffness and ground incline affect the DMAMA, and we establish the feasibility of classifying locomotion modes based exclusively on the load sensor. (2) Methods: Human subjects walked on level ground, ramps, and stairs while wearing a variable-stiffness prosthesis in low-, medium-, and high-stiffness settings. We computed DMAMA from sagittal load sensor data and prosthesis geometric measurements. We used linear mixed-effects models to determine subject-independent and subject-dependent sensitivity of DMAMA to incline and stiffness. We also used a machine learning model to classify locomotion modes using only the load sensor. (3) Results: We found a positive linear sensitivity of DMAMA to stiffness on ramps and level ground. Additionally, we found a positive linear sensitivity of DMAMA to ground slope in the low- and medium-stiffness conditions and a negative interaction effect between slope and stiffness. Considerable variability suggests that applications of DMAMA as a control input should look at the running average over several strides. To examine the efficacy of real-time DMAMA-based control systems, we used a machine learning model to classify locomotion modes using only the load sensor. The classifier achieved over 95% accuracy. (4) Conclusions: Based on these findings, DMAMA has potential for use as a closed-loop control input to adapt semi-active prostheses to different locomotion modes.

Download paper here

Recommended citation: Jennifer K Leestma, Katherine Heidi Fehr, Peter G Adamczyk. (2021). ÔÇťAdapting Semi-Active Prostheses to Real-World Movements: Sensing and Controlling the Dynamic Mean Ankle Moment Arm with a Variable-Stiffness Foot on Ramps and Stairs Sensors. 21(18).