A unilateral transtibial amputation causes a disruption to the musculoskeletal system, which results in asymmetrical biomechanics. The current study aimed to assess the movement asymmetry and compensations that occur as a consequence of an amputation when performing a countermovement vertical jump. Six unilateral transtibial amputees and 10 able-bodied (AB) participants completed 10 maximal vertical jumps, and the highest jump was analyzed further. Three-dimensional lower limb kinematics and normalized (body mass) kinetic variables were quantified for the intact and prosthetic sides. Symmetry was assessed through the symmetry index (SI) for each individual and statistically using the Mann-Whitney U test between the intact and prosthetic sides for the amputee group. A descriptive analysis between the amputee and AB participants was conducted to explore the mechanisms of amputee jumping. The amputee jump height ranged from 0.09 to 0.24 m. In the countermovement, all ankle variables were asymmetrical (SI > 10%) and statistically different (p < .05) for the amputees. At the knee and hip, there was no statistical difference between the intact and prosthetic sides range of motion, although there was evidence of individual asymmetry. The knees remained more extended compared with the AB participants to prevent collapse. In propulsion, the prosthesis did not contribute to the work done and the ankle variables were asymmetrical (p < .05). The knee and hip variables were not statistically different between the intact and prosthetic sides, although there was evidence of functional asymmetry and the contribution tended to be greater on the intact compared with the prosthetic side. The lack of kinetic involvement of the prosthetic ankle and both knees due to the limitation of the prosthesis and the altered musculoskeletal mechanics of the joints were the reason for the reduced height jumped.
Marlene Schoeman is with the Division of Sports and Exercise Medicine, School of Medicine, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa, and with Sport and Exercise Sciences, Department of Life Sciences, Roehampton University, London, United Kingdom. Ceri E. Diss and Siobhan C. Strike (Corresponding Author) are with Sport and Exercise Sciences, Department of Life Sciences, Roehampton University, London, United Kingdom.