• The gait initiation process in unilateral lower-limb amputees when stepping up and stepping down to a new level

      Twigg, Peter C.; Buckley, John G.; Jones, S.F.; Scally, Andy J. (2005)
      Unilateral lower-limb amputees lead with their intact limb when stepping up and with their prosthesis when stepping down; the gait initiation process for the different stepping directions has not previously been investigated. Ten unilateral amputees (5 transfemoral and 5 transtibial) and 8 able-bodied controls performed single steps up and single steps down to a new level (73 and 219 mm). Duration, a-p and m-l centre of mass and centre of pressure peak displacements and centre of mass peak velocity of the anticipatory postural adjustment and step execution phase were evaluated for each stepping direction by analysing data collected using a Vicon 3D motion analysis system. There were significant differences (in the phase duration, peak a-p and m-l centre of pressure displacement and peak a-p and m-l centre of mass velocity at heel-off and at foot-contact) between both amputee sub-groups and controls (P<0.05), but not between amputee sub-groups. These group differences were mainly a result of amputees adopting a different gait initiation strategy for each stepping direction. Findings indicate the gait initiation process utilised by lower-limb amputees was dependent on the direction of stepping and more particularly by which limb the amputee led with; this suggests that the balance and postural control of gait initiation is not governed by a fixed motor program, and thus that becoming an amputee will require time and training to develop alternative neuromuscular control and coordination strategies. These findings should be considered when developing training/rehabilitation programs.