Journal of Rehabilitation Research & Development (JRRD)

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Volume 53 Number 3, 2016
   Pages 369 — 378

Abstract — Impact testing of the residual limb: System response to changes in prosthetic stiffness

Erin Boutwell, PhD;1–3* Rebecca Stine, MS;1,3 Steven Gard, PhD1–3

1Northwestern University Prosthetics-Orthotics Center and Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL; 2Department of Biomedical Engineering, McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL; 3Jesse Brown Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Chicago, IL

Abstract — Currently, it is unknown whether changing prosthetic limb stiffness affects total limb stiffness and/or influences the shock absorption of an individual with transtibial amputation. The hypotheses tested within this study are that a decrease in longitudinal prosthetic stiffness will produce (1) reduced total limb stiffness and (2) reduced magnitude of peak impact forces and increased time delay to peak force. Fourteen subjects with a transtibial amputation participated in this study. Prosthetic stiffness was modified by means of a shock-absorbing pylon that provides reduced longitudinal stiffness through compression of a helical spring within the pylon. A sudden loading evaluation device was built to examine changes in limb loading mechanics during a sudden impact event. No significant change was found in the peak force magnitude or timing of the peak force between prosthetic limb stiffness conditions. Total limb stiffness estimates ranged from 14.9 to 17.9 kN/m but were not significantly different between conditions. Thus, the prosthetic-side total limb stiffness was unaffected by changes in prosthetic limb stiffness. The insensitivity of the total limb stiffness to prosthetic stiffness may be explained by the mechanical characteristics (i.e., stiffness and damping) of the anatomical tissue within the residual limb.

Key words: artificial limbs, elasticity, impact loading, lower-limb, mechanical stress, prosthesis, residual limb, shock, stiffness, transmission, transtibial amputee.


View HTML ¦ View PDF ¦ Contents Vol. 53, No.3

This article and any supplementary material should be cited as follows:
Boutwell E, Stine R, Gard S. Impact testing of the residual limb: System response to changes in prosthetic stiffness. J Rehabil Res Dev. 2016;53(3):369–78.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1682/JRRD.2014.10.0234
ORCID: Erin Boutwell, PhD: 0000-0002-3682-0073

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Last Reviewed or Updated  Wednesday, May 4, 2016 11:43 AM

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