Rehab Cell

Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

Stumble Detection in Prosthetic Limbs

Stumble Detection in Prosthetic Limbs


This is Marjorie Brasier, a retired school teacher from Warwick. Eight years ago she lost her leg when a drunk driver struck the car she and her husband were in. Majorie’s husband was killed in the accident. Today, Marjorie is a volunteer in a University of Rhode Island study to develop a stumble detection system for individuals who walk with a prosthetic leg. One of six test subjects who participated in this study, Marjorie was hooked up to dozens of electrodes and wore shoes that ninety-nine pressure sensors. Her body was covered with fourty light-reflective markers that were tracked by eigth cameras surrounding the room. URI assistant professor of Biomedical Engineering, Helen Huang, seen here with Marjorie, is leading the study. She is trying to determine what kind of physiological signals can be detected when able-bodied individuals, and those using prosthetic legs, begin to stumble. During the testing, Marjorie was hooked up to a harness as she walked on a treadmill with the aid of a cane. She did not know that the treadmill would be used to intentionally trip her or cause her to slip. Huang’s goal is to develop an algorithm that would enable computer-controlled artificial limbs to provide active stumble recovery. With the number of lower-limb amputees growing in this country during a time of war, the research is vital in the effort to improve the usefullness of prosthetic limbs. The project, funded in part by the Rhode Island Science and Technology Advisory Council, is a collaborative effort between Huang, Brown University’s professor Susan D’Andrea, and Nunnery Orthotics and Prosthetic Technologies. Though it was a struggle at times, Marjorie handled the treadmill just fine. Her participation will help the efforts to give amputees a better quality of life in the future.

4 thoughts on “Stumble Detection in Prosthetic Limbs

  1. STUDENTS:
    Black T-Shirt: Fabian Sierra, B.S. EE;
    Black Shirt: Andrew Burke, B.S. B.M.E. & EE;
    White T-Shirt: Fan Zhang, M.S. B.M.E.

  2. While I welcome any improvement with Prosthetic Limbs, surely ending wars would be a better solution for all concerned.

Leave comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *.