Liberating Technologies, Inc.


Advanced Electromyogram-Based Control of Hand-Wrist Prostheses

Many existing wearers of upper limb prostheses use the electrical activity (i.e., the electromyogram or “EMG”) of their residual limb to control hand opening/closing, wrist rotation, etc. Recent studies in laboratories around the world have demonstrated substantially improved EMG-based control, but with apparatus and techniques that are not appropriate for daily use in a prosthesis. For example, some of these studies have used clinical EMG electrode arrays that only operate in a laboratory—not in combination with a prosthesis. LTI has received funding from the National Institutes of Health to develop some of these recent research results for use in a wearable prosthesis. The goal is to improve EMG-based control of hand and wrist prostheses.

For more information about this project and other research conducted at LTI, please contact Dr. Todd Farrell at 508-893-6363.

The Intelligent Brace - A Compliance Monitoring System for Scoliosis

Idiopathic scoliosis (IS) is a condition of lateral curvature of the spine, the cause of which is unknown. Scoliosis affects an estimated 6 million people in the United States alone, and IS is by far the most common type. There is widespread use of bracing for treatment of adolescent IS, and recent studies have begun documenting its efficacy and establishing a positive correlation between brace wear and treatment success. In light of this new evidence, ensuring the proper wear of a scoliosis brace is more crucial than ever. However, these studies have also indicated that user compliance is a large, yet largely unquantified, factor in successful outcomes. Currently the standard of treatment utilizes no means of monitoring fit once the patient leaves the clinic, and any devices that do exist only measure wear time and not whether the brace is being worn as prescribed. Both factors are crucial to achieving maximum benefit from the treatment.

To address this, LTI has partnered with Pro-Tech Orthopedics, SurgiSense Corp, Texas Scottish Rite Hospital and the Minneapolis VA and received funding from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research to develop the Intelligent Brace for Scoliosis. The Intelligent brace is an instrumented scoliosis brace which provides real-time monitoring and data logging to help both the patient and clinician determine if, and when, a brace is being worn effectively. The patient will get immediate feedback of poor fit, thus empowering him/her to have an active role in his or her own healthcare outcome. In addition, it would provide currently unavailable measures of wear compliance to the clinician to better inform brace treatment.

For more information about this project, please contact Jennifer Johansson at 508-893-6363.

Upper Limb Assistive and Rehabilitation Orthotic Device

One of the most common of military injuries are musculoskeletal injuries (MSI), which are inflicted upon thousands of individuals through combat and occupational risks. These injuries to the arms and hands require treatment, assistance, and rehabilitation for the afflicted person.

Occupational therapy (OT) can help in regaining hand function through guided exercise and recovery, however the costs associated with regular occupational therapy can be substantial. A portable device that actuates the fingers externally could mimic the OT and aid the patients in passive and active exercises. Such a device would offload some work from the OT and optimize time spent in-clinic as well as help reduce the cost of rehabilitation by allowing more effective functional exercise at home. In addition, such a device could be used outside the clinic to increase strength and range of motion to assist the user in accomplishing their activities of daily living (ADLs).

With funding from the Department of Defense’s (DoD’s) Defense Health Program (DHP), LTI and its partners from Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) and Ms. Debra Latour, OTR/L, aim to create a low-profile and aesthetic device that can provide actuation to the fingers to create functional grip strength.

For more information about this project and other research conducted at LTI, please contact Dr. Todd Farrell at 508-893-6363

Technologies to Train Myoelectric Prosthesis Users for Optimal Functional Outcomes

Successful outcomes of patients prescribed with myoelectric prostheses are dependent upon appropriate training to develop optimal use and function of the device. The critical time for developing good myoelectric control habits is in the pre-prosthetic phase (between wound healing and prosthesis delivery) but should continue after prosthesis delivery as well. Current myo-training devices rely on technologies that are expensive, manufacturer specific, and are typically non-motivating.

Therefore, LTI, along with its partners from Coapt Engineering and Ms. Debra Latour, OTR/L, plan to create a portable and affordable myoelectric training system that can be used both in the clinic and the home while creating a more engaging experience than current myoelectric trainers. Funds from the Department of Defense’s (DoD’s) Defense Health Program (DHP) will be used to create a system that will likely improve compliance of prosthetic devices by allowing for more approachable and interactive myo-training. This device will likely increase the ease of myoelectric training and help lead to improved functional outcomes for the patient and cost savings for the health care provider.

For more information about this project and other research conducted at LTI, please contact Dr. Todd Farrell at 508-893-6363.

An Adaptive Prosthetic Terminal Device

One of the principal challenges in both prosthetics and robotics is universal grasping, or the secure holding and manipulation of widely varying objects by a single gripper. Many issues related to gripping are a result of the limited degrees of freedom that each device can exhibit.

LTI is serving as a subcontractor to Empire Robotics, Inc. on a study funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to help develop a unique prosthetic terminal device that is designed to be used at work and in the home. We believe that the gripper will reduce compensatory movements that are required to perform many tasks and will therefore reduce wear and tear on the intact upper-limb joints. LTI is focused on tasks related to the interface to the prosthesis, the clinical implementation of the novel gripping technology, and the evaluation of the gripper’s performance against other currently available prehensors.

For more information about this project and other research conducted at LTI, please contact Dr. Todd Farrell at 508-893-6363.

Development of Moisture Management Liner and Active Cooling System for Improving Residual Limb Skin Care

A 2001 study of nearly 100 above-knee amputees found that heat and perspiration inside the socket were reported by 72% of the survey participants as the most common cause for a reduced quality of life. LTI has partnered with Vivonics, Inc. to develop a multi-layered solution to the heat/perspiration problem. Funding from the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command will be used to develop a flexible liner that is capable of removing perspiration from the surface of the skin and 2) develop an active cooling system that is capable of reducing residual limb temperature to decrease perspiration and increase socket comfort.

For more information about this project and other research conducted at LTI please contact Dr. Todd Farrell at 508-893-6363.

Multisegmental Sensor Integration for Balance Control

While adults aged 65 and older comprise the largest segment of the population that is at risk of falls, loss of balance is also a significant problem for those who have had a lower limb amputation and those with mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI). Falls may have a significant impact on subsequent morbidity, disability, and mortality risk, including bruises, head trauma and fractures, especially hip fractures, residual limb damage in amputees, and psychological impact. Given the high cost associated with falling, a wearable system to help prevent falls is more crucial than ever. As the prime contractor for this U.S. Army Medical Research and Material Command-funded project, Liberating Technologies Inc. (LTI), along with our partners at BalanceTek and RxFunction, is developing a system of sensors to calculate an accurate, real-time measure of the Center of Pressure (CoP) and Center of Gravity (CoG) and lay the groundwork for a clinically-viable vibrotactile balance assistance device.