• Walking speed related joint kinetic alterations in trans-tibial amputees: impact of hydraulic 'ankle' damping

      De Asha, Alan R.; Munjal, R.; Kulkarni, J.; Buckley, John G. (2013)
      Passive prosthetic devices are set up to provide optimal function at customary walking speed and thus may function less effectively at other speeds. This partly explains why joint kinetic adaptations become more apparent in lower-limb amputees when walking at speeds other than customary. The present study determined whether a trans-tibial prosthesis incorporating a dynamic-response foot that was attached to the shank via an articulating hydraulic device (hyA-F) lessened speed-related adaptations in joint kinetics compared to when the foot was attached via a rigid, non-articulating attachment (rigF). Eight active unilateral trans-tibial amputees completed walking trials at their customary walking speed, and at speeds they deemed to be slow-comfortable and fast-comfortable whilst using each type of foot attachment. Moments and powers at the distal end of the prosthetic shank and at the intact joints of both limbs were compared between attachment conditions. There was no change in the amount of intact-limb ankle work across speed or attachment conditions. As speed level increased there was an increase on both limbs in the amount of hip and knee joint work done, and increases on the prosthetic side were greater when using the hyA-F. However, because all walking speed levels were higher when using the hyA-F, the intact-limb ankle and combined joints work per meter travelled were significantly lower; particularly so at the customary speed level. This was the case despite the hyA-F dissipating more energy during stance. In addition, the amount of eccentric work done per meter travelled became increased at the residual knee when using the hyA-F, with increases again greatest at customary speed. Findings indicate that a trans-tibial prosthesis incorporating a dynamic-response foot reduced speed-related changes in compensatory intact-limb joint kinetics when the foot was attached via an articulating hydraulic device compared to rigid attachment. As differences between attachment conditions were greatest at customary speed, findings indicate a hydraulic ankle-foot device is most effectual at the speed it is set-up for.