Bioscience

SPARKy devices helps amputees return to normal lives

December 23, 2009

By Flinn Foundation

[Source: ScienceDaily] – Arizona State University researchers have developed a prosthetic device that literally puts the spring back into an amputee’s step. The ASU scientists have developed and refined SPARKy (for spring ankle with regenerative kinetics) into a smart, active and energy storing below-the-knee (transbitial) prosthesis.

SPARKy is the first prosthetic device to apply regenerative kinetics to its design, which resulted in a lightweight (four pound) device that allows the wearer to walk on grass, cement and rocks, as well as ascend and descend stairs and inclines.

SPARKY operates by employing a spring to store energy as the wearer walks during normal gait, said Thomas Sugar, an ASU associate professor of engineering at the Polytechnic campus who led the research. Sugar and his colleagues — ASU doctoral students Joseph Hitt and Matthew Holgate, as well as Barrett Honors College student Ryan Bellman — have been developing and refining SPARKy for three years as part of a U.S. Army grant.

For more information: SPARKy Devices Helps Amputees Return to Normal Lives