Charles Humphries, who will be an undergraduate in mechanical engineering next year, is one of the volunteers helping with Brandt’s research. (Marc Hall photo)

Andrea Brandt

When High Tech Bionics Merge with the Human Side of Science in Order to Meet Individual Needs

When lower limb amputees are fitted with a powered prosthesis, a technician sets the device’s performance parameters in a clinical setting where the person is walking on a flat, level surface. But those clinical conditions don’t correspond to all the walking conditions and movements that an amputee will experience in life.

NC State PhD biomedical student Andrea Brandt is studying how above-knee amputees adapt to using a powered prosthesis for activities like carrying a load. She wants to change the prosthetic knee mechanics to relieve amputees from compensating or working so hard when they do carry loads. She hopes that what she learns will allow amputees better mobility and control of movement.

What most amputees want is a prosthesis that is adaptable, allowing them to return to activities they really enjoyed before having a leg amputated, Brandt said. Her goal is to develop prostheses that adapt to the amputee users, rather than amputees having to adapt to their prosthesis—the ultimate bionic leg that can automatically adjust for specific activities and conditions.

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Originally published July 11, 2017. Written by Natalie Hampton. Photo by Marc Hall.

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