Researchers Cook Up Better Prosthetics, Fish Robots
October 19, 2010 10:48 AM
comment(s) - last by
The lamprey nervous system was used for the computational model
(Source: Avis Cohen and Eric D. Tytell, University of Maryland)
Studying the muscles of a fish as they swim through the water can help with better prosthetic designs
University of Maryland
researchers have created a
of a swimming fish
in an effort to develop medical prosthetic limbs for humans that work more smoothly with the body's natural movements, similar to the way the muscles of a fish interact with water to produce locomotion.
The study was led by University of Maryland researchers Eric D. Tytell and Avis Cohen along with Tulane University researchers Chia-yu Hsu and Lisa Fauci. Together, they simulated how the body of a fish "bends" with the water around it in order to understand how
affect locomotion. With this information, researchers hope to design medical prosthetics and robots that move fluidly with their environment.
"When a fish moves in a fluid, muscles contract, but the fluid also moves against the body," said Tytell, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Maryland. "So, the amount the body moves depends on the internal muscle force and the external reaction of fluids.
"Previous studies examined body mechanics separately from fluid mechanics because it is a very hard problem to solve. This is the first time that anyone has put together a computational framework to simulate this for large, fast
animals like fishes
In this particular study, the lamprey, which is a primitive vertebrate, is being used for the simulation. The nervous system of this creature will help to design prosthetics for patients with spinal cord injuries.
Simulations were performed with various values for different body and fluid properties. During these simulations, Tytell and Hsu found that body stiffness was an important property when determining the lamprey's ability to swim.
"Take a lamprey and a barracuda as examples," said Tytell. "If you hold a freshly dead lamprey, it just drops, because it is a very floppy fish. But if you take a fish like a barracuda, their bodies are stiffer and don't flop much. We wanted to know what difference does the floppy vs. stiff body make? If their muscles produced the same amount of force, then the floppy body, since it bends more, should accelerate more rapidly, but also expend more energy. And the stiff body should accelerate more slowly because it bends less, but once it gets going, it should use less energy."
Tytell adds that this isn't really the way it is, though. According to the study, barracudas, for the most part, accelerate more quickly than lampreys because barracuda's have stronger muscles and higher body stiffness.
While the goal of this study is to eventually develop more fluid prosthetics and robotics, researchers also want to use this information to understand the evolution and biodiversity of fishes. According to Tytell, evolutionary biologists are looking to better understand the "selective pressures" that resulted in
species having specific characteristics
. Locomotion, in particular, is important because understanding how they move will help researchers understand how they find mates, escape predators and locate food.
Researchers also want to use the computational model to figure out why fishes are shaped differently, and how they swim so smoothly through restless waters.
"The first line of defense against external perturbations such as eddies in the water for fishes, or tripping on a rock for humans, isn't the nervous system, but rather the body's mechanics, kind of like shocks on a car," said Tytell. "If we can translate the mechanical stability that living organisms exhibit into the design of robots or
, we could really advance the technology."
"The devices may one day help people regain control over their legs and
," said Cohen, a professor in the Department of Biology at the University of Maryland. "We understand to first order the neural circuit that controls the muscles for swimming or walking. Now, for neuroprosthetics, we need to understand how the muscles interact with the body and the environment -- our model helps us do that."
This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled
RE: It's SCIENCE
10/19/2010 5:00:36 PM
Arms? Come on, they said its floppy when dead.
"You can bet that Sony built a long-term business plan about being successful in Japan and that business plan is crumbling." -- Peter Moore, 24 hours before his Microsoft resignation
Species Accumulate More Slowly Today Than in the Past
September 30, 2010, 12:37 PM
More of the Gulf is Reopened for Fishing as Oil Spill Disperses
September 1, 2010, 10:40 PM
Human Testing to Begin on Mind-controlled Prosthetic
August 9, 2010, 6:45 AM
New Foot Replacement Better Mimics Real Ankle Function
February 17, 2010, 9:11 AM
Creationists are Mad About Google Doodle Depicting Evolution
November 24, 2015, 8:48 PM
DHS and TSA: Whoops, We Missed That 73 Airport Employees May be Terrorists
November 19, 2015, 2:16 PM
Star Wars Spinoff Film "Rogue One", Theme Park Attractions Announced
August 17, 2015, 12:20 PM
SpaceX Falcon 9's Seventh Supply Mission to ISS Ends w/ Fiery Stage 1 Explosion
June 28, 2015, 1:10 PM
Cool Science Video: Glowing Millipede Prowls the Nevada Desert
May 18, 2015, 12:00 PM
Newly Discovered Costa Rican Glass Frog is Kermit's Doppelgänger
April 22, 2015, 11:26 AM
Latest Blog Posts
Sceptre Airs 27", 120 Hz. 1080p Monitor/HDTV w/ 5 ms Response Time for $220
Dec 3, 2014, 10:32 PM
Costco Gives Employees Thanksgiving Off; Wal-Mart Leads "Black Thursday" Charge
Oct 29, 2014, 9:57 PM
"Bear Selfies" Fad Could Turn Deadly, Warn Nevada Wildlife Officials
Oct 28, 2014, 12:00 PM
The Surface Mini That Was Never Released Gets "Hands On" Treatment
Sep 26, 2014, 8:22 AM
ISIS Imposes Ban on Teaching Evolution in Iraq
Sep 17, 2014, 5:22 PM
More Blog Posts
Copyright 2016 DailyTech LLC. -
Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information