Background: This study examined metabolic energy cost and external mechanical work for step-to-step transitions after tibiotalar arthrodesis, and the effect of MBT rocker bottom shoes.
Methods: Oxygen uptake, forceplate and kinematic data were recorded in 18 controls and 15 patients while walking at a fixed speed of 1.25 m/s in three walking conditions: barefoot, normal walking shoes and MBT rocker bottom shoes. Metabolic energy cost, external mechanical work, and the roll-over shape of the ankle-foot complex were analyzed.
Findings: Tibiotalar arthrodesis leads to higher metabolic energy cost during walking. During step-to-step transitions positive work during push-off with the impaired ankle was decreased but negative work during collision was not affected. The roll-over shape of the ankle-foot complex did not differ between groups and shoe conditions. However, both in patients and controls rocker bottom shoes did lead to decreased positive work at push-off and increased negative work at collision and consequently higher metabolic energy cost of walking.
Interpretation: External mechanical work for step-to-step transitions is not different between patients and controls and could not account for the higher metabolic energy cost in patients. Apparently, patients adopt a different walking strategy that limits step-to-step transition cost but nevertheless induces a higher metabolic energy cost. Despite restricted ankle movement, patients retain a normal roll-over shape of the ankle-foot complex. MBT shoes do not affect roll-over shape and appear to have a counterproductive effect on step-to-step transition cost and walking economy.
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