Effects of sagittal plane prosthetic alignment on standing trans-tibial amputee knee loads

Prosthet Orthot Int. 1999 Dec;23(3):231-8. doi: 10.3109/03093649909071639.


The influence of sagittal plane prosthetic alignment changes on loads applied to the ispilateral knee was investigated using 5 transtibial amputee subjects. The goal was to determine which prosthetic alignment results in the most energy efficient standing and also minimises stresses on knee structures during standing. The electromyogram, the external mechanical loading of the prosthetic leg and the amputees' posture were recorded for a wide range of prosthetic alignments. The EMG of the vastus lateralis and biceps femoris muscles was measured bilaterally; the EMG of the gastrocnemius muscle was measured only on the contralateral side. The distance between the anatomical knee centre and each individual's load line, as determined by the Otto Bock "L.A.S.A.R. Posture" alignment system, was used as a measure of the mechanical load applied to the knee joint. Prosthetic alignment has almost no influence on muscle activity of the contralateral lower limb during static standing. On the other hand, prosthetic alignment has a significant influence on the load applied to the amputee's ipsilateral knee joint. The external knee moments applied to the knee ligaments and knee muscles on the amputated side change systematically in response to different plantar flexion or dorsiflexion angles of the prosthetic ankle-foot. During standing the extensor muscles stabilise the limb by contracting if the load line is located less than 15 mm anterior to the anatomical knee centre. The biceps femoris muscle appears to have little or no protective function against hyperextension during standing even if large external knee extension moments are caused by excessive plantar flexion. Such extreme alignments significantly increase the stresses on knee ligaments and the posterior knee capsule. When prosthetic sagittal plane alignment is altered, the trans-tibial amputee compensates by balancing the upper part of the body over the centre of pressure of the prosthetic foot. Biomechanically optimal alignment of the trans-tibial prosthesis occurs when the individual load line is approximately 15 mm anterior to the anatomical knee centre, permitting a comfortable, energy efficient standing and minimising the mechanical loading on the knee structures.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Artificial Limbs*
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Electromyography
  • Humans
  • Knee Joint / physiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology