Gait termination on a declined surface in trans-femoral amputees: Impact of using microprocessor-controlled limb system

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Background:Walking down ramps is a demanding task for transfemoral-amputees and terminating gait on ramps is even more challenging because of the requirement to maintain a stable limb so that it can do the necessary negative mechanical work on the centre-of-mass in order to arrest (dissipate) forward/downward velocity. We determined how the use of a microprocessor-controlled limb system (simultaneous control over hydraulic resistances at ankle and knee) affected the negative mechanical work done by each limb when transfemoral-amputees terminated gait during ramp descent.Methods:Eight transfemoral-amputees completed planned gait terminations (stopping on prosthesis) on a 5-degree ramp from slow and customary walking speeds, with the limb's microprocessor active or inactive. When active the limb operated in its ‘ramp-descent’ mode and when inactive the knee and ankle devices functioned at constant default levels. Negative limb work, determined as the integral of the negative mechanical (external) limb power during the braking phase, was compared across speeds and microprocessor conditions.Findings:Negative work done by each limb increased with speed (p<0.001), and on the prosthetic limb it was greater when the microprocessor was active compared to inactive (p=0.004). There was no change in work done across microprocessor conditions on the intact limb (p=0.35).Interpretation:Greater involvement of the prosthetic limb when the limb system was active indicates its ramp-descent mode effectively altered the hydraulic resistances at the ankle and knee. Findings highlight participants became more assured using their prosthetic limb to arrest centre-of-mass velocity.HIGHLIGHTSWhen terminating gait, negative limb work is done to arrest centre-of-mass velocity.Investigated negative limb work done to halt ramp descent in transfemoral amputeesDetermined how microprocessor limb-system affected negative work done by each limbIncrease in prosthetic side work suggests participants more assured using prosthesis.Suggests limb system should facilitate locomotion over changing terrains.

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