California Patent of the Month – April 2022

There are many reasons why someone may experience weakness or loss of control of their legs. A stroke can lead to weakness in their quad muscles, a torn ACL can limit leg use, and even astronauts can experience weakness after extended times in outer space. Whatever the cause, supportive devices are often the go-to solution to help aid in regaining movement or control. 

Dignity Health has designed a soft, inflatable exosuit specifically for knee rehab. It’s designed with two different beam-like structures and mechanically designed to aid in torque performance during knee extension. Each of these actuators are integrated together to create a light-weight, body-conforming interface. The actuators can be added or removed into different actuator pockets as needed for the individual. Each actuator is made of thermoplastic polyurethane layers with heat seams and air passages.

A soft-silicone insole has embedded force-sensitive resistors to detect the activation duration throughout a user’s gait cycle. A sensor controls the pressurization of each inflatable actuator, supporting the muscle and limb as it flexes. As the user walks and their knee swings through the step, the exosuit reduces muscle activity by inflating between the mid-swing and swing gait phase and deflating as they move back between the swing gait and mid-swing gait phase. This protects the user, supporting the knee while it heals or as long as the muscle is weakened.

Are you developing new technology for an existing application? Did you know your development work could be eligible for the R&D Tax Credit and you can receive up to 14% back on your expenses? Even if your development isn’t successful your work may still qualify for R&D credits (i.e. you don’t need to have a patent to qualify). To find out more, please contact a Swanson Reed R&D Specialist today or check out our free online eligibility test.

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