Altered kinetic strategy for the control of swing limb elevation over obstacles in unilateral below-knee amputee gait

J Biomech. 1999 May;32(5):545-9. doi: 10.1016/s0021-9290(98)00168-7.


Our goal was to document the kinetic strategies for obstacle avoidance in below-knee amputees. Kinematic data were collected as unilateral below-knee traumatic amputees stepped over obstacles of various heights in the walking path. Inverse dynamics were employed to calculate power profiles and work during the limb-elevation and limb-lowering phases. Limb elevation was achieved by employing a different strategy of intra-limb interaction for elevation of the prosthetic limb than for the sound limb, which was similar to that seen in healthy adult non-amputees. As obstacle height increased, prosthetic side knee flexion was increased by modulating the work done at the hip, and not the knee, as seen on the sound side. Although the strength of the muscles about the residual knee was preserved, the range of motion of that knee had previously been found to be somewhat limited. Perhaps more importantly, potential instability of the interface between the stump and the prosthetic socket, and associated discomfort at the stump could explain the altered limb-elevation strategy. Interestingly, the limb-lowering strategy seen in the sound limb and in non-amputees already features modulation of rotational and translational work at the hip, so an alternate strategy was not required. Thus, following a major insult to the sensory and neuromuscular system, the CNS is able to update the internal model of the locomotor apparatus as the individual uses the new limb in a variety of movements, and modify control strategies as appropriate.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Adult
  • Amputation Stumps / physiopathology
  • Amputees*
  • Artificial Limbs*
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Female
  • Gait / physiology*
  • Hip Joint / physiology
  • Humans
  • Knee Joint / physiology
  • Leg / physiology*
  • Male
  • Muscle Contraction / physiology
  • Neuromuscular Junction / physiology
  • Pain / physiopathology
  • Prosthesis Design
  • Range of Motion, Articular / physiology
  • Rotation
  • Surface Properties
  • Walking / physiology*
  • Work / physiology