Originally Published January 2000
Artificial Leg Makes Automatic Adjustments
A leading prosthetic manufacturer has unveiled what it calls the world's first artificial leg controlled completely by a computer.
The C-LEG from Otto Bock Orthopedic Industry (Minneapolis) features the same advanced technology used by the military to improve the performance and stability of its aircraft. This technology automatically adjusts to the amputee's movements, immediately adapting to different walking speeds and providing stability when needed.
The C-LEG's electronic sensors monitor leg and knee position 50 times per second. Data collected by the sensors are sent to a hydraulic damper that controls stance and swing-phase movements. Added hydraulic stance stability is supposed to prevent unintentional knee bending that sometimes occurs on uneven terrain.
Microprocessor control of the C-LEG is based on scientific gait analyses and biomechanical studies. With computer technology monitoring and controlling each step, the leg lets lower-limb amputees walk down steps and engage in other physical activities with a high level of confidence. "I've worn 10 artificial legs in the past 30 years, and the C-LEG is miles ahead of anything that I've experienced," says Mark Marich, a Rhode Island prosthetist and amputee who was recently fitted with the device.
"The C-LEG knows where you are at all times," adds Mike Tallman, an Albany, NY, amputee who also wears the new prosthesis. "It measures real minute movements and makes adjustments based on the environment. It's like having a specialist behind you adjusting the hydraulic tension of the unit with each step."