Toe clearance when walking in people with unilateral transtibial amputation: Effects of passive hydraulic ankle

Johnson, Louise; De Asha, Alan R.; Munjal, Ramesh; Kulkarni, Jai; Buckley, John G.
March 2014
Journal of Rehabilitation Research & Development;2014, Vol. 51 Issue 3, p429
Academic Journal
Most clinically available prosthetic feet have a rigid attachment or incorporate an “ankle” device allowing elastic articulation during stance, with the foot returning to a “neutral” position at toe-off. We investigated whether using a foot with a hydraulically controlled articulating ankle that allows the foot to be relatively dorsiflexed at toe-off and throughout swing would increase minimum toe clearance (MTC). Twenty-one people with unilateral transtibial amputation completed overground walking trials using their habitual prosthetic foot with rigid or elastic articulating attachment and a foot with a hydraulic ankle attachment (hyA-F). MTC and other kinematic variables were assessed across multiple trials. When using the hyA-F, mean MTC increased on both limbs (p = 0.03). On the prosthetic limb this was partly due to the device being in its fully dorsiflexed position at toe-off, which reduced the “toes down” foot angle throughout swing (p = 0.01). Walking speed also increased when using the hyA-F (p = 0.001) and was associated with greater swing-limb hip flexion on the prosthetic side (p = 0.04), which may have contributed to the increase in mean MTC. Variability in MTC increased on the prosthetic side when using the hyA-F (p = 0.03), but this did not increase risk of tripping.


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