Book Review


Title: Introduction to Biomechatronics
Authors: Graham M. Brooker
Publisher: SciTech Publishing; Number of pages: 601
Reviewed by: Mark D. Muller, MS, CPO, FAAOP

As technology advances, it is crucial that orthotic and prosthetic practitioners build knowledge of not only biology and interface fabrication, but electronic, mechanical, computer, and control systems, or mechatronic engineering. The application of mechatronic engineering to human biology is called biomechatronics. A deeper understanding of biomechatronics can help O&P practitioners create devices that improve patient outcomes.

If O&P professionals do not understand how biomechatronic components function, then we can never be sure that they are the best choice for our patients. The author of Introduction to Biomechatronics, Graham Brooker, is a lecturer at the Australian Center for Field Robotics at the University of Sydney. He wrote the book to help biomedical engineering students better understand how electrical and mechanical devices interact with a biological system. This text can help O&P practitioners and other healthcare providers gain a better understanding of what biomechatronic components are, how exactly these powered components work, and their importance.

The latest innovations in power-assisted prosthetic feet and microprocessor-controlled stance control KAFO joints use biomechatronics like strain gauges, force sensors, actuators, accelerometers, and gyroscopes to help patients who require orthotic and prosthetic care perform better. Components considered to be biomechatronic include the PowerKnee© by Ossur, Sensor Knee© KAFO by Ottobock, or iLimb© by Touch Bionics.

This introductory text is appropriate for the new O&P student as well as the seasoned practitioner or anyone who wants to know how to design O&P devices that improve clinical outcomes with the use of sensors, actuators, transducers, signal processing, feedback loops, switches, and power supplies. The book covers the fundamentals of mechanical, electrical, and biomechanical engineering and reviews anatomy, physiology, and mechanics.

There are chapters devoted to mechanical and electrical devices that can help any practitioner begin to understand why biomechatronical components are used and how they might be incorporated into a design for patients. The main chapters include an introduction into biomechatronics, sensors and transducers, actuators, feedback controls, and signal processing.

There are also chapters on hearing aids and implants, sensory substitution and visual prostheses, heart replacement, and respiratory aids. The final chapter is specific to active and passive prosthetic limbs. This chapter lacks a depth of knowledge of prosthetics, but it helps to show how biomechatronics will play a major role as the O&P profession moves forward.

In summary: I highly recommend this book for any student, healthcare professional, or O&P practitioner who wants to learn about how to better control the devices we provide to our patients. If you want to demystify the C-Leg© or Proprio© foot, this text can help. With a basic understanding of biomechatronics, the O&P practitioner can sit at the design table with other engineers and together create devices that make our patient's lives better.

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