Prosthetic leg can ‘change gears’ to make going up stairs easier


A robotic leg with a big toe and motors that can “change gear” like a bicycle can enable a wearer to walk up stairs and slopes


23 November 2022

Photos of an amputee subject using the powered leg

The Utah Bionic Leg uses mechanical levers to enable people to go up stairs

HGN Lab for Bionic Engineering at the University of Utah

A robotic leg with motors that work like bike gears could let a wearer walk up stairs – which many people find impossible with unpowered prostheses.

Most prostheses have no motors to actively assist walking, but instead are either passive or help only by altering the resistance of a joint’s swing, controlled by a low-power microchip. The few actively powered prostheses on the market are relatively heavy and bulky, with short battery lives, and have achieved limited success. …


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