Undergraduate students work to design permanent prosthesis

From left, engineering majors James Hills, Kathryn Van Lieshout and Patrick Parkinson attach sensors to Woody Roseland. Photo: Wayne Armstrong

Senior engineering majors Patrick Parkinson, James Hills and Kathryn Van Lieshout are working on a potentially life-changing design for amputees. Their concept is to create a post that could be implanted in the bone and attach to a prosthesis—a design that would allow amputees to get rid of the popularly used stump-socket design. The project is part of Professor Peter Laz’s 30-week senior design course in the School of Engineering and Computer Science in conjunction with the University’s Center for Orthopaedic Biomechanics.

The students are working in collaboration with Dr. Ronald Hugate, of Presbyterian/St. Luke’s Hospital, and amputee Woody Roseland to create their design.

Roseland, 22, is a seven-time cancer survivor who had his left leg amputated 18 months ago. He says he’s happy to donate his time for research because having a permanent prosthesis would raise the quality of life for most amputees.

The students currently are in the preliminary design stage, collecting data by utilizing the Human Dynamics Lab housed inside the Ritchie Center for Sports & Wellness.

In the lab, Parkinson, Hills and Van Lieshout place reflective markers along Roseland’s body. His movements are captured by infrared cameras to create 3-D images.

“It gives us the capability to analyze a person’s movements,” Van Lieshout says. “We want to see how much pressure, bend and weight a person experiences while doing typical movements.”

The data collected will help the seniors understand what their implant design needs to look like to be most beneficial to amputees. By May, they plan to have a 3-D prototype to present to Hugate, along with their recommendations on creating a fully functioning implant.

“Undergrads doing transformative research is phenomenal,” says Bradley Davidson, director of the Human Dynamics Lab. “It’s rewarding to see undergraduate students executing such high-level research.”

Kathy Walsh of CBS4 came to the University of Denver to see the students at work. You can watch her video here.

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