Magazine article ASEE Prism

Shaking a Leg

Magazine article ASEE Prism

Shaking a Leg

Article excerpt

Computer games can be a good way to capture the attention of youngsters and show them how useful technology and engineering can be in real life.

That was certainly the idea behind a computer simulation game created for the University of Kentucky's recent Engineering Day festivities by the school's Center for Biomedical Engineering. Several hundred high-school students who attended were allowed to try the game, which required players, using a mouse, to stimulate the virtual leg muscles of a "person" to move an artificial leg.

The game showcased the growing field of rehabilitation engineering. When people are paralyzed by a spinal cord injury, their limb muscles and nerves remain healthy. Already, paralyzed people can get artificial legs that move by stimulating the muscles electronically. But fine control remains a problem, says Jimmy Abbas, U-K professor of biomedical engineering, because all muscles are different and their responses change as they become fatigued. …

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