I’m one of those people who is a bit geeky and enjoy watching shows about developing technology. Many times I’ve watched or read about robotic engineers creating robots that can walk. Each time they speak of how difficult this is despite sounding simple. Mainly because walking is actually a very complicated process that involves our brain, muscles, and nerves all working together. If one of those parts becomes damaged, walking can become difficult. Such can be the case for prosthetic users or people with nerve damage in the foot. Now a Florida company has created a device called Sensastep which can better tell a person when their foot is firmly on the ground.
Sensastep came about after Jon Christiansen was involved in a boating accident that left the nerves below his left leg numb. This excerpt from a Popular Science article explains what happened next:
Christiansen had the strength to walk with a cane, but without feeling in his foot, he could not gauge when each step hit the ground without looking down. After a painful fall in 2003, he recruited two friends, engineers Richard Haselhurst and Steve Willens, to help him find a better way to get around. Willens came up with the idea of using tones to signal Christiansen’s brain when his feet touched the ground, and in 2006 the three built a prototype of Sensastep.
Pressure under the foot is detected by an insole with sensors. When the correct amount of pressure is applied from stepping, that’s when the tones are sent. A transmitter is connected to the insole sensors and wraps around the ankle. This transmitter then sends a signal to a piece that fits behind the ear and delivers the audible tones. Another USB device can receive signals and give data to a computer. This can be used for gait therapy and gives the therapist added information.
Sensastep can be beneficial for a variety of people. Prosthetic users, diabetics with neuropathy, people with balance disorders and tibial nerve damage. For more information visit www.Sensastep.com or read this Popular Science Article.