A Prototype of a Neural, Powered, Transtibial Prosthesis for the Cat: Benchtop Characterization.
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We developed a prototype of a neural, powered, transtibial prosthesis for the use in a feline model of prosthetic gait. The prosthesis was designed for attachment to a percutaneous porous titanium implant integrated with bone, skin, and residual nerves and muscles. In the benchtop testing, the prosthesis was fixed in a testing rig and subjected to rhythmic vertical displacements and interactions with the ground at a cadence corresponding to cat walking. Several prosthesis functions were evaluated. They included sensing ground contact, control of transitions between the finite states of prosthesis loading, and a closed-loop modulation of the linear actuator gain in each loading cycle. The prosthetic design parameters (prosthesis length = 55 mm, mass = 63 g, peak extension moment = 1 Nm) corresponded closely to those of the cat foot-ankle with distal shank and the peak ankle extension moment during level walking. The linear actuator operated the prosthetic ankle joint using inputs emulating myoelectric activity of residual muscles. The linear actuator gain was modulated in each cycle to minimize the difference between the peak of ground reaction forces (GRF) recorded by a ground force sensor and a target force value. The benchtop test results demonstrated a close agreement between the GRF peaks and patterns produced by the prosthesis and by cats during level walking.