By Margaret Rock
Researchers at Vanderbilt University created a more agile prosthetic leg using smartphone innovations, the latest example of how mobile technology is propelling medical advances.
The Vanderbilt leg, weighing in less than most lower limbs at nine pounds, is unique in its ability to use computer, sensor, motor, and battery technology to better power knee and ankle joints in unison, allowing amputees to walk with a more natural gait. The prosthetic leg also senses ground slope and avoids obstructions to optimize balance.
The researchers' seven-year effort harnesses several technological advances made possible by smartphones, including microprocessors that use data to predict people's intended actions and prompts the device to respond. And, on one charge, the device can function at normal levels for about three days, requiring 30 to 40 percent less than an average person's energy to operate.more