A knee brace design to reduce the energy consumption of walking
Author(s)Carvey, Matthew R
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Mechanical Engineering.
Neville J. Hogan.
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Recent research into the mechanics of walking indicates that a quasi passive wearable device could be created which dramatically reduces the metabolic energy used in walking especially when the wearer is carrying additional torso weight. Target population groups include military personnel who must carry heavy battle packs and body armor, hikers, letter carriers, and the quasi disabled. This latter group includes a significant fraction of the elderly who have reduced leg strength and/or higher weight torsos. The device is called PUUMA, an acronym for Personal Unpowered Universal Mobility Assistant. Though walking has been studied extensively, there appears to be a limited understanding of the interplay between the kinetic and potential energy of the torso when driven by legs that can store and release energy. This thesis introduces a simplified model which enables simulation of the entire walking process including the epoch following heel strike. One simulation goal was to explore the knee spring properties which enable lossless walking. Simulations show that there are two knee spring configurations which allow for lossless walking. It is also shown that the percentage of kinetic energy transferred to a knee spring can be a significant fraction of the torso kinetic energy.(cont.) PIJUMA's basic idea is the incorporation of torsion springs at the knee joints which absorb torso kinetic energy following heel strike and then release that stored energy later in the step. An application of the capstan effect is introduced which enables a practical implementation of two knee spring configurations. In particular, the design allows the thigh and shank to be dynamically coupled to a microprocessor controlled knee spring thereby allowing both unimpeded leg swing and kinetic energy transfer to the knee spring. Another use of the capstan effect is introduced which allows for a microprocessor controlled brake that can freeze the knee at its maximum torsion and then release it later in the walking cycle. A design is shown which embodies the architectural ideas created. Several of the key components were designed, prototyped and tested.
Thesis (S.B.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Mechanical Engineering, 2005.Includes bibliographical references (leaves 51-52).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Mechanical Engineering.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology