Neuro-Robotics pp 105-155 | Cite as

Mimicking Human-Like Leg Function in Prosthetic Limbs

  • Martin Grimmer
  • André Seyfarth
Part of the Trends in Augmentation of Human Performance book series (TAHP, volume 2)


Human upright locomotion is a complex behavior depending on manifold requirements. Bones, muscles, cartilage and tendons provide mechanical infrastructure. Central nervous commands, reflex mechanisms from the spinal cord level or also preflexes defined by actuator properties provide input to create motion patterns like walking or running. Due to dysvascularity, infections or traumatic events parts of the biological framework can get lost. Until the end of the twentieth century mostly passive structures were used to replace amputees lower limbs. Full functionality like in the biological system can not be provided because of missing sensory information and power source. Innovations in actuator, battery and micro electronics technology make it possible to improve prosthetic design. A first innovation was introduced with semi-active devices using microprocessor controlled dampers to modulate prosthetic joint behavior similar to isometric or eccentric muscle function. A further step is to power the joints to emulate concentric muscle function. Combined with ingenious control mechanisms this could potentially provide every possible movement task. Twenty-six powered prosthetic systems and further passive prototypes are presented in this work. Mechanical and control solutions are introduced. Amputee gait in various daily life situations using passive, semi-active and powered prostheses is compared. Areas for improvements are discussed.


Prosthetics Human Gait Walking Energy Power Biomechanics Control Spring 



contractile element


computational intrinsic control


center of mass




energy requirements


energy storage and return


fastest possible walking speed


ground reaction force


interactive extrinsic control


intact limb


parallel element


parallel elastic actuator


peak power


preferred walking speed


residual prosthetic limb


range of motion


solid ankle cushioned heel


series element


series elastic actuator






unidirectional parallel spring


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Lauflabor Locomotion LabTechnische Universität DarmstadtDarmstadtGermany

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