For amputees to perform an everyday task, or to participate in physical exercise, it is crucial that they have an appropriately designed and functional prosthesis. Past studies of transfemoral amputee gait have identified several limitations in the performance of amputees and in their prosthesis when compared with able-bodied walking, such as asymmetrical gait, slower walking speed, and higher energy demands. In particular the different inertial characteristics of the prosthesis relative to the sound limb results in a longer swing time for the prosthesis. The aim of this study was to determine whether this longer swing time could be addressed by modifying the alignment of the prosthesis. The following hypothesis was tested: Can the inertial characteristics of the prosthesis be improved by lowering the prosthetic knee joint, thereby producing a faster swing time? To test this hypothesis, a simple 2-D mathematical model was developed to simulate the swing-phase motion of the prosthetic leg. The model applies forward dynamics to the measured hip moment of the amputee in conjunction with the inertial characteristics of prosthetic components to predict the swing-phase motion. To evaluate the model and measure any change in prosthetic function, we conducted a kinematic analysis on four Paralympic runners as they ran. When evaluated, there was no significant difference (p > 0.05) between predicted and measured swing time. Of particular interest was how swing time was affected by changes in the position of the prosthetic knee axis. The model suggested that lowering the axis of the prosthetic knee could reduce the longer swing time. This hypothesis was confirmed when tested on the amputee runners.
Brendan Burkett, James Smeathers, and Timothy M. Barker
Danielle P. Formosa, Huub M. Toussaint, Bruce R. Mason, and Brendan Burkett
The measurement of active drag in swimming is a biomechanical challenge. This research compared two systems: (i) measuring active drag (MAD) and (ii) assisted towing method (ATM). Nine intermediate-level swimmers (19.7 ± 4.4 years) completed front crawl trials with both systems during one session. The mean (95% confidence interval) active drag for the two systems, at the same maximum speed of 1.68 m/s (1.40–1.87 m/s), was significantly different (p = .002) with a 55% variation in magnitude. The mean active drag was 82.3 N (74.0–90.6 N) for the MAD system and 148.3 N (127.5–169.1 N) for the ATM system. These differences were attributed to variations in swimming style within each measurement system. The inability to measure the early catch phase and kick, along with the fixed length and depth hand place requirement within the MAD system generated a different swimming technique, when compared with the more natural free swimming ATM protocol. A benefit of the MAD system was the measurement of active drag at various speeds. Conversely, the fixed towing speed of the ATM system allowed a natural self-selected arm stroke (plus kick) and the generation of an instantaneous force-time profile.
Anna C. Severin, Brendan J. Burkett, Mark R. McKean, Aaron N. Wiegand, and Mark G.L. Sayers
This study examined the effect of water immersion on trunk and lower limb kinematics during squat exercises in older participants. A total of 24 active older adults (71.4 ± 5.4 years) performed squats and split squats on land and while partially submerged in water. Inertial sensors (100 Hz) were used to record trunk and lower body kinematics. Water immersion increased the squat depth (squat: p = .028, d = 0.63 and split squat: p = .005, d = 0.83) and reduced the trunk flexion range (squat: p = .006, d = 0.76 and split squat: p < .001, d = 1.35) during both exercises. In addition, water immersion increased the hip range of motion during the split squat (p = .002, d = 0.94). Waveform analyses also indicated differences in the timing of the movements. These results showed that water-based exercise generates a different exercise outcome and appears to provide an alternative option for older adults, enabling exercisers to perform these tasks in a manner not possible on land.