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Added lower limb mass does not affect biomechanical asymmetry but increases metabolic power in runners with a unilateral transtibial amputation

Abstract

Purpose

we determined the metabolic and biomechanical effects of adding mass to the running-specific prosthesis (RSP) and biological foot of individuals with a unilateral transtibial amputation (TTA) during running.

Methods

10 individuals (8 males, 2 females) with a TTA ran on a force-measuring treadmill at 2.5 m/s with 100 g and 300 g added to their RSP alone or to their RSP and biological foot while we measured their metabolic rates and calculated peak vertical ground reaction force (vGRF), stance-average vGRF, and step time symmetry indices.

Results

for every 100 g added to the RSP alone, metabolic power increased by 0.86% (p = 0.007) and for every 100 g added to the RSP and biological foot, metabolic power increased by 1.74% (\(p<\) 0.001) during running. Adding mass had no effect on peak vGRF (p = 0.102), stance-average vGRF (p = 0.675), or step time (p = 0.413) symmetry indices. We also found that the swing time of the affected leg was shorter than the unaffected leg across conditions (\(p<\) 0.007).

Conclusions

adding mass to the lower limbs of runners with a TTA increased metabolic power by more than what has been reported for those without an amputation. We found no effect of added mass on biomechanical asymmetry, but the affected leg had consistently shorter swing times than the unaffected leg. This suggests that individuals with a TTA maintain asymmetries despite changes in RSP mass and that lightweight prostheses could improve performance by minimizing metabolic power without affecting asymmetry.

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Abbreviations

RSP:

Running-specific prosthesis

SI:

Symmetry index

TTA:

Transtibial amputation

vGRF:

Vertical ground reaction force

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Funding

This study was supported by the University of Colorado Beverly Sears Graduate Student Grant.

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Correspondence to Ryan S. Alcantara.

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Communicated by Jean-René Lacour.

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Alcantara, R.S., Beck, O.N. & Grabowski, A.M. Added lower limb mass does not affect biomechanical asymmetry but increases metabolic power in runners with a unilateral transtibial amputation. Eur J Appl Physiol 120, 1449–1456 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00421-020-04367-9

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Keywords

  • Amputee
  • Symmetry
  • Energetics
  • Economy
  • Prosthesis