Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Mechanical Engineering

Major Professor

Dustin L. Crouch

Committee Members

David E. Anderson, Jeffery Reinbolt, Joshua Weinhandl, Richard Komistek


Assistive devices serve as a potential for restoring sensorimotor function to impaired individuals. My research focuses on two assistive devices: a passive shoulder exoskeleton and a muscle-driven endoprosthesis (MDE). Previous passive shoulder exoskeletons have focused on testing during static loading conditions in the shoulder. However, activities of daily living are based on dynamic tasks. My research for passive shoulder exoskeletons analyzes the effect that a continuous passive assistance has on shoulder biomechanics. In my research I showed that passive assistance decreases the muscular activation in muscles responsible for positive shoulder exoskeleton. An MDE has the potential to have accurate and precise control of movement as well as restore a sense of proprioception to the user. Such a transformative and invasive device has never previously been tested. Therefore, my research focused on analyzing fundamental principles of the MDE in an in-vivo rabbit model. The two concepts I tested in my research were the feasibility of implanting an orthopedic device underneath the skin at the distal end of a limb following amputation and the locomotor restorative capabilities of an artificial tendon used for muscle-device connection. In my work I proved the feasibility of implanting fully-footed rigid endoprostheses underneath the skin and isolated the primary factors for a successful surgery and recovery. In addition, my research showed that although artificial tendons have the potential to restore locomotor function, proper in-situ tendon lengths must be achieved for optimal movement. This research informed the design and testing of a fully jointed muscle-driven endoprosthesis prototype.

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