Heel compliance and walking mechanics using the Niagara Foot Prosthesis
The Niagara Foot (NF) is a relatively new prosthetic design, primarily intended for use in developing countries. It combines low cost and durability with high performance energy return features. The design has been successfully tested mechanically and in field trials, but to date there has been little quantitative gait data describing the performance of the foot. Biomechanical gait analysis techniques will be used to extract quantitative gait measures. The current study is designed to characterize the effect of heel section stiffness parameter differences between a NF normal heel and a NF with a reduced material heel section., on gait characteristics in persons with unilateral trans-tibial amputations (TTA). Standardized biomechanical gait analysis techniques, adapted for this population, were used to extract quantitative gait measures. Five persons with TTA performed walking tasks while 3D ground reaction forces were recorded via an embedded force platform. A motion capture system also recorded the 3D segmental motion of the lower limbs and torso of each subject. These were combined to calculate net joint moments and mechanical power at the hip and knee of both limbs. These data were compared between a normal NF and a NF with a modified heel. Each participant had a period of two-week adaptation prior to any testing. An EMG system and a prosthesis evaluation questionnaire were used to help analyze the condition. The overall hypothesis of this study was that modification of the heel section stiffness would change several aspects of gait. Although the gait pattern differences between participants and the low participant number produced no significant differences between the conditions for all variables, trends were observed in multiple outcomes. These results report preliminary evidence that for some participants the heel material reduction does impact their gait by showing a different loading phase during the transition between the heel strike and the full contact with the ground. The NF2 may move the gait toward a more flexed knee position. Furthermore, despite a reduction in the material of the heel section results showed that the overall foot stiffness increased. This may be the result of the one-piece design and mechanics of the NF. Further investigations with a bigger cohort of people with TTA are required to look at the importance of the impact of the prosthetic foot heel stiffness.
DegreeMaster of Science (M.Sc.)
SupervisorLanovaz, Joel L.
CommitteeBarden, John M.; Dust, William N.; Linassi, A. Gary
Copyright DateMay 2011
3D Motion Capture