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Segment velocities in normal and transtibial amputees: prosthetic design implications

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6 Author(s)
Rao, S.S. ; Pathokinesiology Lab., Rancho Los Amigos Med. Center, Downey, CA, USA ; Boyd, L.A. ; Mulroy, S.J. ; Bontrager, E.L.
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Dynamic elastic response foot and ankle prostheses (Seattle-Lite, Flex Foot, etc.) used by transtibial amputees feature substantial design improvements over conventional designs (SACH, Single Axis, etc.). Despite this progress, transtibial amputees continue to expend greater energy than normals. Increased residual limb EMG data and altered gait patterns suggest that impaired mobility may be the cause of overactive muscles in early stance. Prosthetic mobility was therefore quantified by measuring foot, shank and thigh velocities in nine transtibial amputees, wearing 3 different foot designs: Single Axis (SA), Seattle Lite (SL) and Flex Foot (FF). The magnitude, timing and rate of segment velocities for each prosthetic design, characterizing early stance mobility, were compared with corresponding measures in normal, nonamputee (NA) controls using Dunnett's test. Regardless of foot type, transtibial (TT) amputees walked slower than non amputee controls (63.3-65.8 m/min versus 78.5 m/min, p<0.05) and their stride length was shorter (1.21-1.26 m versus 1.41 m, p<0.01). In early stance, peak foot and shank velocities were lower (p<0.01) for both the SL and FF while only shank velocity was lower (p<0.01) with the SA compared to NA controls. Significant delays in the timing of early stance events such as peak shank velocity, peak ankle plantarflexion and peak knee flexion compromised shank and knee stability in TT amputees. Foot and shank mobility was uncontrolled with the SA design while ankle mobility was restricted by the FF and SL feet. In NA controls on the other hand, appropriate timing and rate of segment velocity changes preserved dynamic stability and forward progression in early stance. This was evidenced by rapid decreases in foot and shank velocity as the thigh velocity increased during weight acceptance. Future prosthetic designs should provide TT amputees with improved ankle mobility that attempt to capture the dynamic characteristics of a normal articulation between the foot and shank segments during the early stance weight acceptance period

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Rehabilitation Engineering, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:6 ,  Issue: 2 )