Julien Guiaux Brinon obtained his Master's degree in electromechanical engineering from the Universite Catholique de Louvain (UCLouvain, Belgium) in 2022. At the end of his degree, he completed a master thesis in rehab robotics dealing with the characterization of upper-limb rehabilitation robot actuated with pneumatic artificial muscles. Since then, he joined the team of Professor Ronsse (UCLouvain, Louvain Bionics) as a PhD student. His research project in the field of electromechanical design for medical devices aims at designing a new bionic prosthetic knee while providing a framework having the potential to drastically change the way bionic lower-limb prostheses are designed.
|2022||(missing information)||Université catholique de Louvain|
The project of my PhD aims to revolutionize the field of lower limb prosthetics, specifically focusing on the knee joint, by developing a cutting-edge prosthesis. Bionic prostheses aim at replacing the missing leg joints and segments of amputees. Their design specifications are challenged by the movement biomechanics that should be assisted (highly fluctuating torque and power profiles) and strong constraints regarding their usability (weight, volume, noise, comfort). Therefore, researchers designed their actuators by combining passive elastic elements to store and release energy, and active systems to provide net energy. This project aims to harness the advantages of a relatively new trend promoting hybrid passive-active prosthesis, while also taking it a step further by maximizing the integration of functions into more compact systems through optimization techniques and breaking free from the limitations imposed by using off-the-shelf components exclusively. Unlike conventional approaches, we explore innovative optimization methods which involves customizing and fine-tuning every aspect of the prosthesis, from materials to actuation topologies, to achieve the highest level of integration, performance, and comfort for the user.
By developing, implementing, testing, and validating an active knee prosthesis, we aim to challenge the existing designs on several objectives. The primary goal is to be significantly more efficient than existing solutions with optimization of the device to closely mimic natural knee functions. Current prostheses often suffer from bulkiness and weight, limiting user comfort and ease of use. The focus will therefore be placed on innovative materials and design techniques to reduce weight and achieve a more compact and streamlined form factor, without compromising performance or durability. The last contribution of this project is to promote versatility by extending the set of tasks that could be assisted by lower-limb bionic prostheses. On top of typical tasks such as walking and climbing up/down stairs, and postural transitions such as sit-to-stand, our design will also cover the assistance of cycling, therefore raising the potential for amputees to contribute to sustainable and healthy mobility. The different requirements of these four tasks will be integrated into our design by optimizing its specifications to reach the most versatile possible system.