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User-Centered Design

The project will apply an iterative User Centred Design methodology because of its effectiveness in capturing, analysing, and communicating the needs and requirements of all stakeholders. With this methodology, it is possible to derive iteratively the system requirements based on the user perspectives regarding the positive as well as negative aspects of the ongoing developments. This approach helps the users understand and experience the technology as it is being developed, maximizing its clinical impact. In addition, this approach will establish a constant communication channel between all stakeholders from the beginning until the end of the project, thereby maximising the innovation potential and applicability of the developed technologies.

Closed-loop control of bionic legs

The biggest challenge in developing the SimBionics framework remains in the interdisciplinary nature of developing interfaces for prosthesis control. SimBionics combines and further develops the state of the art in musculoskeletal modelling, real-time control of walking and balancing and methods to provide sensory feedback as well as their clinical assessment and commercial translation. 

This challenge breaks down in multiple parts:

  • Estimating robustly phantom knee and ankle mechanics (torque, stiffness and damping) via musculoskeletal models that do not need electrophysiological input data (e.g. electromyograms) is considered. 
  • Embedding balance strategies in prosthetic controllers, i.e. reactive close-loop strategies, mimicking the reflexive circuits in the spine, which can adapt to abrupt changes in the environment and maintain balance during locomotion and standing.
  • Providing amputees with somatosensory feedback from the prosthesis. Multichannel tactile stimulation will be used to transmit feedback on multiple variables of interest for walking and balancing. The feedback provided will close the loop by informing the amputee of the changes in behavior of the prosthesis.
  • Developing personalised assessment methodologies methods to evaluate and predict the benefit of prosthetic technology for the amputee with a level of detail not possible presently.

Publication list:

S. Manz*, R. Valette*, F. Damonte, L. Avanci Gaudio, J. Gonzalez, M. Sartori, S.Dosen & J. Rietman. A review of user needs to drive the development of lower limb prostheses“. Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation 19, Article number: 119 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12984-022-01097-1

J. Gonzalez, M. Sartori, S. Dosen, H. van der Kooij and J. Rietman. “SimBionics: Neuromechanical Simulation and Sensory Feedback for the Control of Bionic Legs“. WeRob 2020: Wearable Robotics: Challenges and Trends. pp 269-273

H2020-MSCA-ITN-2019 – SimBionics

simbionics@gmail.com