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Jeremy D. Smith and Philip E. Martin

Unilateral, transtibial amputees exhibit walking asymmetries and higher metabolic costs of walking than nonamputees walking at similar speeds. Using lightweight prostheses has previously been suggested as a contributing factor to walking asymmetries. The purpose was to investigate the effects of prosthesis mass and mass distribution on metabolic costs and walking asymmetries among six unilateral, transtibial amputees. Kinematic and temporal symmetry did not improve when mass was added at different locations on the limb. Stance and swing time asymmetries increased by 3.4% and 7.2%, respectively, with loads positioned distally on the limb. Maximum knee angular velocity asymmetries increased by 6% with mass added to the thigh, whereas maximum thigh angular velocity asymmetries increased by approximately 10% with mass positioned near the prosthetic ankle. Adding 100% of the estimated mass difference between intact and prosthetic legs to the ankle of the prosthesis increased energy costs of walking by 12%; adding the same mass to the prosthesis center of mass or thigh center of mass increased metabolic cost by approximately 7% and 5%, respectively. Unless other benefits are gained by increasing prosthesis mass, this should not be considered as a possible alternative to current lightweight prosthesis designs currently being prescribed to unilateral amputees.

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Kevin D. Dames, Jeremy D. Smith and Gary D. Heise

Gait data are commonly presented as an average of many trials or as an average across participants. Discrete data points (eg, maxima or minima) are identified and used as dependent variables in subsequent statistical analyses. However, the approach used for obtaining average data from multiple trials is inconsistent and unclear in the biomechanics literature. This study compared the statistical outcomes of averaging peaks from multiple trials versus identifying a single peak from an average profile. A series of paired-samples t tests were used to determine whether there were differences in average dependent variables from these 2 methods. Identifying a peak value from the average profile resulted in significantly smaller magnitudes of dependent variables than when peaks from multiple trials were averaged. Disagreement between the 2 methods was due to temporal differences in trial peak locations. Sine curves generated in MATLAB confirmed this misrepresentation of trial peaks in the average profile when a phase shift was introduced. Based on these results, averaging individual trial peaks represents the actual data better than choosing a peak from an average trial profile.

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Joshua T. Weinhandl, Jeremy D. Smith and Eric L. Dugan

The purpose of the study was to investigate the effects of fatigue on lower extremity joint kinematics, and kinetics during repetitive drop jumps. Twelve recreationally active males (n = 6) and females (n = 6) (nine used for analysis) performed repetitive drop jumps until they could no longer reach 80% of their initial drop jump height. Kinematic and kinetic variables were assessed during the impact phase (100 ms) of all jumps. Fatigued landings were performed with increased knee extension, and ankle plantar flexion at initial contact, as well as increased ankle range of motion during the impact phase. Fatigue also resulted in increased peak ankle power absorption and increased energy absorption at the ankle. This was accompanied by an approximately equal reduction in energy absorption at the knee. While the knee extensors were the muscle group primarily responsible for absorbing the impact, individuals compensated for increased knee extension when fatigued by an increased use of the ankle plantar flexors to help absorb the forces during impact. Thus, as fatigue set in and individuals landed with more extended lower extremities, they adopted a landing strategy that shifted a greater burden to the ankle for absorbing the kinetic energy of the impact.