Graduation Year

2014

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

M.S.M.E.

Degree Granting Department

Mechanical Engineering

Major Professor

Kyle Reed

Keywords

Gait Rehabilitation, Knee Location, Non Amputee Testing, Passive Knee, Weight Reduction

Abstract

amputation, which includes reduced force generation at the knee and ankle, reduced control of the leg, and different mass properties relative to their intact leg. The physical change in the prosthetic leg leads to gait asymmetries that include spatial, temporal, or force differences. This altered gait can lead to an increase in energy consumption and pain due to compensating forces and torques. The asymmetric prosthesis demonstrated in this research aims to find a balance between the different types of asymmetries to provide a gait that is more symmetric and to make it overall easier for an amputee to walk.

Previous research has shown that a passive dynamic walker (PDW) with an altered knee location can exhibit a symmetric step length. An asymmetric prosthetic simulator was developed to emulate this PDW with an altered knee location. The prosthetic simulator designed for this research had adjustable knee settings simulating different knee locations. The prosthetic simulator was tested on able-bodied participants with no gait impairments. The kinetic and kinematic data was obtained using a VICON motion capture system and force plates.

This research analyzed the kinematic and kinetic data with different knee locations (high, medium, and low) and normal walking. This data was analyzed to find the asymmetries in step length, step time, and ground reaction forces between the different knee settings and normal walking.

The study showed that there is symmetry in step lengths for all the cases in overground walking. The knee at the lowest setting was the closest in emulating a normal symmetric step length. The swing times for overground walking showed that the healthy leg swings at almost the same rate in every trial and the leg with the prosthetic simulator can either be symmetric, like the healthy leg or has a higher swing time. Step lengths on the treadmill also showed a similar pattern, and step length of the low knee setting were the closest to the step length of normal walking. The swing times for treadmills did not show a significant trend. Kinetic data from the treadmill study showed that there was force symmetry between the low setting and normal walking cases. In conclusion these results show that a low knee setting in an asymmetric prosthesis may bring about spatial and temporal symmetry in amputee gait.

This research is important to demonstrate that asymmetries in amputee gait can be mitigated using a prosthesis with a knee location dissimilar to that of the intact leg. Tradeoffs have to be made to achieve symmetric step length, swing times, or reaction forces. A comprehensive study with more subjects has to be conducted in-order to have a larger sample size to obtain statistically significant data. There is also opportunity to expand this research to observe a wider range of kinetic and kinematic data of the asymmetric prosthesis.

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