Fluid–Structure Coupling Model and Experimental Validation of Interaction Between Pneumatic Soft Actuator and Lower Limb

Dong Guan, Rong Liu (Corresponding Author), Chengwei Fei, Shumi Zhao, Lingxiao Jing

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review


Pneumatic soft actuators (PSAs) are components that produce predesigned motion or force in different end-use
devices. PSAs are lightweight, flexible, and compatible in human–machine interaction. The use of PSAs in
compression therapy has proven promising in proactive pressure delivery with a wide range of dosages for
treatment of chronic venous insufficiency and lymphedema. However, effective design and control of PSAs for
dynamic pressure delivery have not been fully elaborated. The purpose of this study is to explore interactive
working mechanisms between a PSA and lower limbs through establishing fluid–structure coupling models, an
intermittent pneumatic compression (IPC) testing system, and conducting experimental validation. The developed
IPC testing system consisted of a PSA unit (multichambered bladders laminated with an external textile shell), a
pneumatic controller, and various real-time pressure monitoring sensors and accessory elements. The established
coupling model characterized the dynamic response process with varying design parameters of the PSA unit, and
demonstrated that the design of initial thickness,stiffness,and air mass flow of the PSA, as well as stiffness of limb
tissues of the users, influenced PSA-lower limb interactions and resultant pressure dosages. The simulated results
presented a favorable agreement with the experimental data collected by the IPC testing system. This study
enhanced understanding of PSA-lower limb interactive working mechanisms and provided an evidence-based
technical guidance for functional design of PSA. These results contribute to improving the efficacy of dynamic
compression therapy for promotion of venous hemodynamics and user compliance in practice.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberSORO-2019-0035
Number of pages13
JournalSoft Robotics
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2020

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