Meet Catherine Davis
Major: Biomedical Engineering, Visual Arts minor
Graduation Year: December 2016
Field of Study: Biomechanics
Once an amputee has been properly fitted with a prosthetic limb, it is essential that they learn to function with this artificial limb just as they did their biological limb. In transfemoral amputees (i.e., amputation above the knee), it is often observed that lateral flexion of the torso toward the prosthesis alters their gait. Our new gait training system proposes to assist, correct, and even strengthen the gait of transfemoral amputees through assistive and/or resistive forces applied in the frontal plane.
Trials were conducted using the Accelerated Rehabilitation Technologies (ART) gait training system primarily with healthy volunteers to obtain pilot data. This system consists of a base metal frame, secured to a treadmill, and software for user control. Ultimately, the programing of the system was completed using LabVIEW (National Instruments Inc. Austin, TX), to control several devices (footswitches, load cells, accelerometer, etc.). Using several variations of the system, trials were conducted by applying assistive/resistive forces to the subject during walking on the flat surface of the treadmill. By analyzing the tension in the cable during walking along with the timing of the foot sensors, we were able to evaluate the motor function. In addition, video footage was taken during each trial to calculate the angle of lateral flexion.
It was found that the use of this mechanical system in gait training causes lateral flexion toward the simulated “good leg” in all healthy subjects. Therefore, it is possible to conclude that amputees will experience a decrease in lateral flexion toward their amputated side. Consequently, the pain experienced by amputees and the energy expended when walking can be greatly reduced. In the future, these changes will tremendously improve the quality of life for lower limb amputees.
After spending so much time working alone in a lab, I have realized that I prefer to work with others. Because of this experience in the Green Fellowship program, I am looking into a career in medical device Post
Advice for future students:
Ask questions. No matter what, ask the people around you as many questions as possible. The time you spend participating in the Green Fellowship is very unique. In order to truly soak in the diversity of information in the lab, it is essential to learn from those around you.