Volume 51 Number 8, 2014
Pages 1229 — 1242
Abstract — People with amputation are at increased risk of falling compared with age-matched, nondisabled individuals. This may partly reflect amputation-related changes to minimum toe clearance (MTC) that could increase the incidence of trips and fall risk. This study determined the contribution of an active dorsiflexing prosthesis to MTC. We hypothesized that regardless of speed or incline the active dorsiflexion qualities of the ProprioFoot would significantly increase MTC and decrease the likelihood of tripping. Eight people with transtibial amputation walked on a treadmill with their current foot at two grades and three velocities, then repeated the protocol after 4 wk of accommodation with the ProprioFoot. A mixed-model, repeated-measures analysis of variance was used to compare MTC. Curves representing the likelihood of tripping were derived from the MTC distributions and a multiple regression was used to determine the relative contributions of hip, knee, and ankle angles to MTC. Regardless of condition, MTC was approximately 70% larger with the ProprioFoot (p < 0.001) and the likelihood of tripping was reduced. Regression analysis revealed that MTC with the ProprioFoot was sensitive to all three angles, with sensitivity of hip and ankle being greater. Overall, the ProprioFoot may increase user safety by decreasing the likelihood of tripping and thus the pursuant likelihood of a fall.
Key words: ankle, fall risk, gait, kinematics, speed, stumble, toe clearance, treadmill, trip, variability, walking.
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