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Tripping grad students over and over for science (and better prosthetic limbs)

Prosthetic limbs are getting better, but not as quickly as you’d think. They’re not as smart as our real limbs, which (directed by the brain) do things like automatically stretch out to catch ourselves when we fall. This particular “stumble reflex” was the subject of an interesting study at Vanderbilt that required its subjects to fall down… a lot.
The problem the team is aiming to help alleviate is simply that users of prosthetic limbs fall, as you might guess, more than most, and when they do fall, it can be very difficult to recover, since an artificial leg — especially for above-the-knee amputations — doesn’t react the same way a natural leg would.
The idea, explained lead researcher and mechanical engineering Professor Michael Goldfarb, is to determine what exactly goes into a stumble response and how to recreate that artificially.

Prototype prosthesis proffers proper proprioceptive properties
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