Though the rabbit is a common animal model in musculoskeletal research, there are very limited data reported on healthy rabbit biomechanics. Our objective was to quantify the normative hindlimb biomechanics (kinematics and kinetics) of six New Zealand White rabbits (three male, three female) during the stance phase of gait. We measured biomechanics by synchronously recording sagittal plane motion and ground contact pressure using a video camera and pressure-sensitive mat, respectively. Both foot angle ( i.e ., angle between foot and ground) and ankle angle curves were unimodal. The maximum ankle dorsiflexion angle was 66.4 ± 13.4° (mean ± standard deviation across rabbits) and occurred at 38% stance, while the maximum ankle plantarflexion angle was 137.2 ± 4.8° at toe-off (neutral ankle angle = 90 degrees). Minimum and maximum foot angles were 17.2 ± 6.3° at 10% stance and 123.3 ± 3.6° at toe-off, respectively. The maximum peak plantar pressure and plantar contact area were 21.7 ± 4.6% BW/cm 2 and 7.4 ± 0.8 cm 2 respectively. The maximum net vertical ground reaction force and vertical impulse, averaged across rabbits, were 44.0 ± 10.6% BW and 10.9 ± 3.7% BW∙s, respectively. Stance duration (0.40 ± 0.15 s) was statistically significantly correlatedmore »
Towards an ankle-foot orthosis powered by a dielectric elastomer actuator
Foot drop is the inability to dorsiflex the ankle (raise the toes) due to neuromuscular impairment, and this common condition can cause trips and falls. Current treatments for chronic foot drop provide dorsiflexion support, but they either impede ankle push off or are not suitable for all patients. Powered ankle-foot orthosis (AFO) can counteract foot drop without these drawbacks, but they are heavy and bulky and have short battery life. To counteract foot drop without the drawbacks of current treatments or powered AFO, we designed and built an AFO powered by dielectric elastomer actuators (DEAs), a type of artificial muscle technology. This paper presents our design and the results of benchtop testing. We found that the DEA AFO can provide 49 % of the dorsiflexion support necessary to raise the foot. Further, charging the DEAs reduced the effort that would be required for plantarflexion compared to that with passive DEA behavior, and this operation could be powered for 7000 steps or more in actual operation. DEAs are a promising approach for building an AFO that counteracts foot drop without impeding plantarflexion, and they may prove useful for other powered prosthesis and orthosis designs.
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