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J Biomech. 2014 May 7;47(7):1675-81. doi: 10.1016/j.jbiomech.2014.02.033. Epub 2014 Mar 6.

Dynamic stability of individuals with transtibial amputation walking in destabilizing environments.

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Department of Kinesiology & Health Education, University of Texas, Austin, TX 78712, USA.
Military Performance Lab, Department of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation, Brooke Army Medical Center, Ft. Sam Houston, TX 78234, USA.
Department of Kinesiology & Health Education, University of Texas, Austin, TX 78712, USA. Electronic address:


Lower limb amputation substantially disrupts motor and proprioceptive function. People with lower limb amputation experience considerable impairments in walking ability, including increased fall risk. Understanding the biomechanical aspects of the gait of these patients is crucial in improving their gait function and their quality of life. In the present study, 9 persons with unilateral transtibial amputation and 13 able-bodied controls walked on a large treadmill in a Computer Assisted Rehabilitation Environment (CAREN). While walking, subjects were either not perturbed, or were perturbed either by continuous mediolateral platform movements or by continuous mediolateral movements of the visual scene. Means and standard deviations of both step lengths and step widths increased significantly during both perturbation conditions (all p<0.001) for both groups. Measures of variability, local and orbital dynamic stability of trunk movements likewise exhibited large and highly significant increases during both perturbation conditions (all p<0.001) for both groups. Patients with amputation exhibited greater step width variability (p=0.01) and greater trunk movement variability (p=0.04) during platform perturbations, but did not exhibit greater local or orbital instability than healthy controls for either perturbation conditions. Our findings suggest that, in the absence of other co-morbidities, patients with unilateral transtibial amputation appear to retain sufficient sensory and motor function to maintain overall upper body stability during walking, even when substantially challenged. Additionally, these patients did not appear to rely more heavily on visual feedback to maintain trunk stability during these walking tasks.


Amputation; Dynamic stability; Gait; Perturbations; Virtual reality

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