Study: The Effects of Powered Prostheses on Walking Quantified

Powered prostheses could improve ankle power, step-to-step transition and reduce metabolic demands over passive devices, according to a study recently published in Prosthetics and Orthotics International.

Researchers at the Brooke Army Medical Center used repeated measures to explore mechanical work during step-to-step transitions from a trailing prosthetic to the leading intact limb, steady state metabolic rate and ankle joint kinetics and kinematics.

Six patients using passive and powered ankle-foot prostheses and six able-bodied controls took part in the study. They walked at a standardized speed across level ground and up a 5-degree incline.

Findings showed that the powered prosthesis generated 63% greater trailing limb step-to-step transition work than the passive device during level walking. It also increased ankle power compared to the passive device. Metabolic rate was lower with the powered prosthesis during level walking, but not inclined walking, the study found.

These results could benefit further development and use of actively powered prosthetic devices in high-functioning individuals, according to the study.