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Logo for the Journal of Rehab R&D
Volume 43 Number 4, July/August 2006
Pages 509 — 516


Abstract - A noncontact sensor for measurement of distal residual-limb position during walking

Joan E. Sanders, PhD;* Ari Karchin, MSE; John R. Fergason, CPO; Elizabeth A. Sorenson, MSE

Departments of Bioengineering and Rehabilitation Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA
Abstract — A simple noncontact device was implemented for measuring the position of the distal residual limb relative to the prosthetic socket during ambulation. The device was a small and lightweight photoelectric sensor positioned within a frame mounted immediately beneath the socket. Calibration tests showed that the sensor had a displacement range of 60.0 mm. The root-mean-square error for all sources of error considered (different reflective surfaces, peak-to-peak signal noise, drift, nonlinearity, different surface tilt angles, surface curvature, and wetness [simulating sweating]) was <1.95 % full-scale output. We used the sensor in a preliminary study on a unilateral, transtibial amputee with diabetes to assess pistoning during ambulation. Results showed an average 41.7 mm proximal displacement during swing phase relative to stance phase. When the subject was walking on a flat surface, pistoning was significantly less (p = 0.000) with a supracondylar strap compared with no supracondylar strap, although the difference was not substantial (0.8 mm). A 5 min rest period caused the limb to displace proximally in the socket approximately 4.8 mm during subsequent walking trials, possibly reflecting limb enlargement and thus a more proximal position in the socket after the rest period. The device can potentially be used in prosthetics research for evaluating clinical features that may affect limb position and pistoning and thus fit.
Key words: ambulation, displacement, interface, liner, pistoning, position, prosthetics, rehabilitation, sensor, socket, transtibial amputee.

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