Can simulating human movement help the disabled?

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accessibilitat, enginyeria biomèdica, enginyeries industrials

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per Servei de Comunicació i Promoció
Gener 2011

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Can human movement be analysed to design devices that help people walk? The UPC is working on modelling how the human body moves, with the ultimate aim of designing new orthopaedic devices for the disabled.

Josep Maria Font. Biomedical Engineering Research Centre. Department of Mechanical Engineering.

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Josep Maria Font believes that those who wish to devote their lives to research must have a certain set of traits: ‘they must be curious, because they’ll need to ask lots of questions; dedicated, because it is the steady, day-to-day work that will allow them to rise to a challenge when it comes; and imaginative, so that they can find innovative solutions to problems’.

The researcher, who is also a committed teacher, is studying the gait of patients with bone-marrow lesions for the purposes of designing active orthopaedic devices that will help them to walk. Computer software is being designed to simulate how patients move with these kinds of devices, which will ultimately enable their movements to be predicted and reduce the need for medical tests.

An interdisciplinary team from the universities of A Coruña and Extremadura that includes mechanical engineers, control engineers, doctors and orthopaedists is also working on the project. According to Font, at the start, ‘Communication with the healthcare professionals was tricky. We weren’t always on the same wavelength. Now, however, we understand each other well and have built up a lot of trust.’