Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Biomedical Engineering


Biomedical and General Engineering


Lily Laiho


Transfemoral amputees around the world experience increased difficulty in climbing stairs due to lack of muscle, balance, and other factors. The loss of a lower limb greatly diminishes the amount of natural force generation provided that is necessary to propel oneself up stairs. This study investigated possible solutions to the problem of stair ascension for transfemoral amputees by the means of designing and developing an externally attachable device to a prosthesis. The number of amputations from military service has greatly increased since 2008, which shows there is a clear need for assistive devices (Wenke, Krueger, & Ficke, 2012). With the number of amputations rising and no current externally attachable products on the market to aid in stair ascension for transfemoral amputees, the need for this specific device has become more prominent.

Research, previous work, and preliminary testing provided a basis for design and development of a new prototype. Bench top testing was conducted to review concepts in the prototype and provide data for further modifications. Results from testing of previous work, as well as testing of new concepts and modifications, provided a framework for designing a new externally attachable device for assistance in stair ascension. A new prototype was then designed, manufactured, and tested with bench models as well as real-time testing with amputees. Success of the device’s performance was based on bench top results and feedback from amputees, noting both the advantages and shortcomings of the new prototype. Testing provided results and feedback that the device was well built and functioned properly, but did not perform satisfactorily, particularly in the categories of force generation and balance.