A novel spring-loaded-crutch design may provide patients additional forward velocity, relative to traditional axillary crutches; however, this idea has not yet been evaluated.
To quantify elastic potential energy stored by spring-loaded crutches during crutch–ground contact and determine whether this energy increases forward velocity for patients during crutch ambulation. Because elastic potential energy is likely stored by the spring-loaded crutch during ambulation, the authors hypothesized that subjects would exhibit greater peak instantaneous forward velocity during crutch–ground contact and increased preferred ambulation speed during spring-loaded-crutch ambulation, relative to traditional-crutch ambulation.
10 healthy men and 10 healthy women.
The independent variable was crutch type: Subjects used spring-loaded and traditional axillary crutches to ambulate at standardized and preferred speeds.
Main Outcome Measures:
The primary dependent variables were peak instantaneous forward velocity and preferred ambulation speed; these variables were quantified using high-speed videography and an optoelectronic timing device, respectively. Between-crutches differences for the dependent variables were evaluated using paired t tests (α = .05). Elastic potential energy stored by the spring-loaded crutches during crutch–ground contact was also quantified via videography.
Peak forward velocity during crutch–ground contact was 5% greater (P < .001) for spring-loaded-crutch ambulation than for traditional-crutch ambulation. Preferred ambulation speed, however, did not significantly differ (P = .538) between crutch types. The spring-loaded crutches stored an average of 2.50 ± 1.96 J of elastic potential energy during crutch–ground contact.
The spring-loaded crutches appear to have provided subjects with additional peak instantaneous forward velocity. This increased velocity, however, was relatively small and did not increase preferred ambulation speed.