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J Appl Physiol (1985). 2017 Jul 1;123(1):38-48. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00896.2016. Epub 2017 Mar 30.

Prosthetic model, but not stiffness or height, affects the metabolic cost of running for athletes with unilateral transtibial amputations.

Author information

1
Department of Integrative Physiology, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado; and Owen.beck@colorado.edu.
2
Department of Integrative Physiology, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado; and.
3
Department of Veterans Affairs, Eastern Colorado Healthcare System, Denver, Colorado.

Abstract

Running-specific prostheses enable athletes with lower limb amputations to run by emulating the spring-like function of biological legs. Current prosthetic stiffness and height recommendations aim to mitigate kinematic asymmetries for athletes with unilateral transtibial amputations. However, it is unclear how different prosthetic configurations influence the biomechanics and metabolic cost of running. Consequently, we investigated how prosthetic model, stiffness, and height affect the biomechanics and metabolic cost of running. Ten athletes with unilateral transtibial amputations each performed 15 running trials at 2.5 or 3.0 m/s while we measured ground reaction forces and metabolic rates. Athletes ran using three different prosthetic models with five different stiffness category and height combinations per model. Use of an Ottobock 1E90 Sprinter prosthesis reduced metabolic cost by 4.3 and 3.4% compared with use of Freedom Innovations Catapult [fixed effect (β) = -0.177; P < 0.001] and Össur Flex-Run (β = -0.139; P = 0.002) prostheses, respectively. Neither prosthetic stiffness (P ≥ 0.180) nor height (P = 0.062) affected the metabolic cost of running. The metabolic cost of running was related to lower peak (β = 0.649; P = 0.001) and stance average (β = 0.772; P = 0.018) vertical ground reaction forces, prolonged ground contact times (β = -4.349; P = 0.012), and decreased leg stiffness (β = 0.071; P < 0.001) averaged from both legs. Metabolic cost was reduced with more symmetric peak vertical ground reaction forces (β = 0.007; P = 0.003) but was unrelated to stride kinematic symmetry (P ≥ 0.636). Therefore, prosthetic recommendations based on symmetric stride kinematics do not necessarily minimize the metabolic cost of running. Instead, an optimal prosthetic model, which improves overall biomechanics, minimizes the metabolic cost of running for athletes with unilateral transtibial amputations.NEW & NOTEWORTHY The metabolic cost of running for athletes with unilateral transtibial amputations depends on prosthetic model and is associated with lower peak and stance average vertical ground reaction forces, longer contact times, and reduced leg stiffness. Metabolic cost is unrelated to prosthetic stiffness, height, and stride kinematic symmetry. Unlike nonamputees who decrease leg stiffness with increased in-series surface stiffness, biological limb stiffness for athletes with unilateral transtibial amputations is positively correlated with increased in-series (prosthetic) stiffness.

KEYWORDS:

amputee; asymmetry; prosthesis

PMID:
28360121
DOI:
10.1152/japplphysiol.00896.2016
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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