The aim of this study was to investigate whether impaired ankle function after total ankle arthroplasty (TAA) affects the mechanical work during the step-to-step transition and the metabolic cost of walking. Respiratory and force plate data were recorded in 11 patients and 11 healthy controls while they walked barefoot at a fixed walking speed (FWS, 1.25 m/s) and at their self-selected speed (SWS). At FWS metabolic cost of transport was 28% higher for the TAA group, but at SWS there was no significant increase. During the step-to-step transition, positive mechanical work generated by the trailing TAA leg was lower and negative mechanical work in the leading intact leg was larger. Despite the increase in mechanical work dissipation during double support, no significant differences in total mechanical work were found over a complete stride. This might be a result of methodological limitations of calculating mechanical work. Nevertheless, mechanical work dissipated during the step-to-step transition at FWS correlated significantly with metabolic cost of transport: r=.540. It was concluded that patients after successful TAA still experienced an impaired lower leg function, which contributed to an increase in mechanical energy dissipation during the step-to-step transition, and to an increase in the metabolic demand of walking.
2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.