Running-specific prostheses permit energy cost similar to nonamputees

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2009 May;41(5):1080-7. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e3181923cee.


Improvements in prosthesis design have facilitated participation in competitive running for persons with lower limb loss (AMP).

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to examine the physiological responses of AMP using a run-specific prosthesis (RP) versus a traditional prosthesis (P) and cross-referenced with nonamputee controls (C) matched by training status, age, gender, and body composition during level treadmill running (TM).

Methods: Twelve trained runners completed a multistage submaximal TM exercise during which HR and oxygen uptake (VO(2)) were obtained. Steady state measures at 134 m x min(-1) were compared between RP and P in AMP. AMP using RP (AMP-RP) and C also performed a continuous speed-incremented maximal TM test until volitional fatigue.

Results: RP elicited lower HR and VO(2) compared with P in AMP. Using RP, AMP achieved similar VO(2max) and peak TM speed compared with C but with higher HR(max). Relative HR (%HR(max)) and oxygen uptake (%VO(2max)), the regression intercept, slope, SEE, and Pearson's r correlation were not different between AMP-RP and C. %HR(max) calculated with the published equation, %HR(max) = 0.73(%VO(2max)) + 30, was not significantly different from actual %HR(max) for AMP-RP or C in any stage.

Conclusions: RP permits AMP to attain peak TM speed and aerobic capacity similar to trained nonamputees and significantly attenuates HR and energy cost of submaximal running compared with a P. Use of RP confers no physiological advantage compared with nonamputee runners because energy cost at the set speed was not significantly different for AMP-RP. Current equations on the basis of the relative HR-VO(2) relationship seem appropriate to prescribe exercise intensity for persons with transtibial amputations using RP.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Artificial Limbs*
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology*
  • Equipment Design*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Oxygen Consumption
  • Running / physiology*
  • Young Adult