Is Increased Residual Shank Length a Competitive Advantage for Elite Transtibial Amputee Long Jumpers?

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Lee Nolan Karolinska Institutet, Sweden

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Benjamin L. Patritti Harvard Medical School, USA

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Laura Stana Harvard Medical School, USA

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Sean M. Tweedy Harvard Medical School, USA

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The purpose of this study was to evaluate the extent to which residual shank length affects long jump performance of elite athletes with a unilateral transtibial amputation. Sixteen elite, male, long jumpers with a transtibial amputation were videoed while competing in major championships (World Championships 1998, 2002 and Paralympic Games, 2004). The approach, take-off, and landing of each athlete’s best jump was digitized to determine residual and intact shank lengths, jump distance, and horizontal and vertical velocity of center of mass at touchdown. Residual shank length ranged from 15 cm to 38 cm. There were weak, nonsignificant relationships between residual shank length and (a) distance jumped (r = 0.30), (b) horizontal velocity (r = 0.31), and vertical velocity (r = 0.05). Based on these results, residual shank length is not an important determinant of long jump performance, and it is therefore appropriate that all long jumpers with transtibial amputation compete in the same class. The relationship between residual shank length and key performance variables was stronger among athletes that jumped off their prosthetic leg (N = 5), and although this result must be interpreted cautiously, it indicates the need for further research.

Lee Nolan is with the Laboratory for Biomechanics and Motor Control, Karolinska Institutet and the Swedish School of Sport and Health Sciences, GIH, Stockholm, Sweden. She is also with the Department of Rehabilitation at Jönköping University, Jönköping, Sweden. Benjamin L. Patritti is with the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Harvard Medical School in Boston, MA. He is also with the Department of Rehabilitation and Aged Care, Repatriation General Hospital, Adelaide, Australia. Laura Stana and Sean Tweedy are with the University of Queensland, School of Human Movement Studies in Brisbane Australia. Laura Stana is also with the Department of Rehabilitation Sciences at Katholieke Universiteit in Leuven, Belgium.

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