Pneumatic systems & components


Medical research relies on fluidic muscle

Fourth Quarter 2004 Pneumatic systems & components

Research at the Vienna University Clinic into the occurrence of a medical condition known as 'bow legs', or axis misalignment, is set to get a boost from a unique Festo invention - the fluidic muscle.

Believed to simulate human muscle movement more closely than any other mechanical device, the pneumatic actuator will help determine the optimum parameters for the operative correction of axis misalignment, which causes excessive wear of the joints if untreated. "The fluidic muscle offers a major advantage compared to the hydraulic cylinders originally used in our test rig, since its meshed structure permits the generation of dynamic force components," explains senior physician, Dr Gobert Skrbensky. "What is more, contraction is totally homogenous. If the muscle is shortened by means of compressed air, its behaviour very much resembles that of a biological muscle. It enables us to simulate muscular power increasingly more realistically."

The fluidic muscle has been introduced as a stand-in for actual musculature in studying the movement sequences of the human knee. The test rig used to determine the success of attempted corrective measures allows anatomical models to carry out changes in axis positions and to determine their effect on the distribution of force in the knee. "By allowing us to measure forces occurring during joint movement, this rig is tremendously important in the development of implants such as hip and knee joints, plates screws and nails," Dr Skrbensky points out. "For these values to be usable, it is crucial for movement sequences to be simulated as realistically as possible." A major contribution is made here by the fluidic muscle in the form of a force generator, instead of a biological muscle. The Viennese researchers believe they have found the right actuator for their simulation set up.

For more information contact Richard Teagle, MD, Festo, +27 (0) 11 971 5500, richard_teagle@festo.com, www.festo.com



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