Muscular Dystrophy Exoskeleton

Scope

The scope and overview of this project is to develop an assistive device for patients suffering from Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD). DMD is a neuromuscular disorder that is an X-linked recessive disease and is commonly seen in young boys. Approximately 1 out of 3600-6000 boys are born with DMD. Consequences from suffering with DMD include delay in motor skills, difficulty walking for a long period, and a primarily sedentary lifestyle.

Symptoms occur as early as 4-5 years old; one of the most common problems are tendo-achillis tightness than forces them to walk with equinus/ toe-to-heel gait, and because of this, it is common to see young children walk on their tiptoes. For this reason, this research will look into how different materials (gel, foam, rubber, silicone) can redistribute forces along the foot and increase shock absorbency when children are tiptoeing.

tiptoe.jpg

Photo: Science Photo Library

Duties

My personal research roles/duties include making and designing initial prototypes for an exoskeleton. I will be doing this by using 3D printing to develop an attachment mechanism to any shoe, and also eventually make prototypes to house different material (gel, foam, rubber, and auxetics) which will be measured against each other individually and also as composites to determine its effectiveness. I will help with the experimental design and testing protocol to make sure testing is consistent, as well as reach out to patients suffering from DMD to conduct user interviews to gain a better understanding of their needs.

A variety of sensors will be used to determine the materials effectiveness, such as pressure sensors/force sensors and EMG sensors that will run along the bottom of the foot. With the help from the MIT's Biomechatronics Laboratory, there is a possibility to work with patients suffering from DMD in order to test my prototypes and analyze user data.

In Progress

Currently, the project is a in progress, but please check back soon to see updates!