Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Mechanical Engineering

Major Professor

Craig Lusk, Ph.D.


Compliant mechanism, Pseudo rigid body model, Instant center, Finite element analysis, 4-bar, Functional requirements, Pediatric prosthetic, Prosthetic, Above knee amputation, Transfemoral


We have designed and examined a compliant knee mechanism that may offer solutions to problems that exist for infants and toddlers who are just learning to walk. Pediatric prosthetic knees on the market today are not well designed for infants and toddlers for various reasons. Children at this age need a prosthetic that is light in weight, durable, and stable during stance. Of the eleven knees on the market for children, all but three are polycentric or four-bar knees, meaning they have multiple points of movement. Polycentric knees are popular designs because they offer the added benefit of stable stance control and increased toe clearance, unfortunately this type of knee is often too heavy for young children to wear comfortably and is not well suited for harsh environments such as sand or water, common places children like to play. The remaining three knees do not offer a stance control feature and are equally vulnerable to harsh environments due to ball bearing hinges.

Compliant mechanisms offer several design advantages that may make them suitable in pediatric prosthetic knees -- light weight, less susceptible to harsh environments, polycentric capable, low part count, etc. Unfortunately, they present new challenges that must be dealt with individually. For example compliant mechanisms are typically not well suited in applications that need adjustability. This problem was solved by mixing compliant mechanism design with traditional mechanism design methods. This paper presents a preliminary design concept for a compliant pediatric prosthetic knee. The carbon fiber composite spring steel design was first built and then evaluated using Finite Element Analysis. The prototype's instant center was plotted using the graphical method. From our analysis position, force and stress information was gathered for a deflection up to 120 degrees. The instant centers that were plotted indicate that the knee has good potential in offering adequate stability during stance.