Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common cause of walking-related disability among older adults in the United States, and the prevalence and incidence of OA are increasing rapidly. Systemic and local risk factors for knee OA have been identified, and obesity and joint injury appear to be the strongest risk factors that are both modifiable and have the potential for substantial impact on a population level. The risk factors for functional decline and disability in persons with symptomatic OA have been examined in relatively few studies. The course of functional decline in persons with symptomatic OA on a population level is generally one of stable to slowly deteriorating function, but on an individual level, many patients maintain function or improve during the first 3 years of follow-up. Obesity stands out as one of few modifiable risk factors of OA that also is a potentially modifiable predictor of functional decline. Physical activity also appears to have a substantial protective impact on future OA-related disability. Further epidemiologic studies and randomized controlled trials are needed to prioritize prevention through targeting these modifiable risk factors for OA and related disability.
Lower extremity amputation not only limits mobility, but also increases the risk of knee osteoarthritis of the intact limb. Dynamic walking models of non-amputees suggest that pushing-off from the trailing limb can reduce collision forces on the leading limb. These collision forces may determine the peak knee external adduction moment (EAM), which has been linked to the development of knee OA in the general population. We therefore hypothesized that greater prosthetic push-off would lead to reduced loading and knee EAM of the intact limb in unilateral transtibial amputees. Seven unilateral transtibial amputees were studied during gait under three prosthetic foot conditions that were intended to vary push-off. Prosthetic foot-ankle push-off work, intact limb knee EAM and ground reaction impulses for both limbs during step-to-step transition were measured. Overall, trailing limb prosthetic push-off work was negatively correlated with leading intact limb 1st peak knee EAM (slope = −0.72 +/− 0.22; p=0.011). Prosthetic push-off work and 1st peak intact knee EAM varied significantly with foot type. The prosthetic foot condition with the least push-off demonstrated the largest knee EAM, which was reduced by 26% with the prosthetic foot producing the most push-off. Trailing prosthetic limb push-off impulse was negatively correlated with leading intact limb loading impulse (slope = −0.34 +/− 0.14; p=.001), which may help explain how prosthetic limb push-off can affect intact limb loading. Prosthetic feet that perform more prosthetic push-off appear to be associated with a reduction in 1st peak intact knee EAM, and their use could potentially reduce the risk and burden of knee osteoarthritis in this population.
Objective. To examine the association of concurrent low back pain (LBP), and other musculoskeletal pain comorbidity, with knee pain severity in symptomatic knee osteoarthritis (OA). Methods. Individuals from the Progression
Lower-limb amputees expend more energy to walk than non-amputees and have an elevated risk of secondary disabilities. Insufficient push-off by the prosthetic foot may be a contributing factor. We aimed to systematically study the effect of prosthetic foot mechanics on gait, to gain insight into fundamental prosthetic design principles. We varied a single parameter in isolation, the energy-storing spring in a prototype prosthetic foot, the Controlled Energy Storage and Return (CESR) foot, and observed the effect on gait. Subjects walked on the CESR foot with three different springs. We performed parallel studies on amputees and on non-amputees wearing prosthetic simulators. In both groups, spring characteristics similarly affected ankle and body center-of-mass (COM) mechanics and metabolic cost. Softer springs led to greater energy storage, energy return and prosthetic limb COM push-off work. But metabolic energy expenditure was lowest with a spring of intermediate stiffness, suggesting biomechanical disadvantages to the softest spring despite its greater push-off. Disadvantages of the softest spring may include excessive heel displacements and COM collision losses. We also observed some differences in joint kinetics between amputees and non-amputees walking on the prototype foot. During prosthetic push-off, amputees exhibited reduced energy transfer from the prosthesis to the COM along with increased hip work, perhaps due to greater energy dissipation at the knee. Nevertheless, the results indicate that spring compliance can contribute to push-off, but with biomechanical trade-offs that limit the degree to which greater push-off might improve walking economy.
Primary disabling conditions, such as amputation, not only limit mobility, but also predispose individuals to secondary musculoskeletal impairments, such as osteoarthritis (OA) of the intact limb joints, that can result in additive disability. Altered gait biomechanics that cause increased loading of the intact limb have been suggested as a cause of the increased prevalence of intact limb knee and hip osteoarthritis in this population. Optimizing socket fit and prosthetic alignment, as well as developing and prescribing prosthetic feet with improved push-off characteristics, can lead to reduced asymmetric loading of the intact limb and therefore are potential strategies to prevent and treat osteoarthritis in the amputee population. Research on disabled populations associated with altered biomechanics offers an opportunity to focus on the mechanical risk factors associated with this condition. Continued research into the causes of secondary disability and the development of preventive strategies are critical to enable optimal rehabilitation practices to maximize function and quality of life in patients with disabilities.
Although our study design does not allow for proving causation, increased transverse plane rotation has been associated with intervertebral disc degeneration, suggesting that increased transverse plane rotation secondary to walking with a prosthetic limb may be a causative factor in the etiology of low-back pain in transfemoral amputees. Identifying differences in lumbar motion can lead to potential preventative and therapeutic intervention strategies.
The lack of functional ankle musculature in lower limb amputees contributes to the reduced prosthetic ankle push-off, compensations at other joints and more energetically costly gait commonly observed in comparison to non-amputees. A variety of energy storing and return prosthetic feet have been developed to address these issues but have not been shown to sufficiently improve amputee biomechanics and energetic cost, perhaps because the timing and magnitude of energy return is not controlled. The goal of this study was to examine how a prototype microprocessor-controlled prosthetic foot designed to store some of the energy during loading and return it during push-off affects amputee gait. Unilateral transtibial amputees wore the Controlled Energy Storage and Return prosthetic foot (CESR), a conventional foot (CONV), and their previously prescribed foot (PRES) in random order. Three-dimensional gait analysis and net oxygen consumption were collected as participants walked at constant speed. The CESR foot demonstrated increased energy storage during early stance, increased prosthetic foot peak push-off power and work, increased prosthetic limb center of mass (COM) push-off work and decreased intact limb COM collision work compared to CONV and PRES. The biological contribution of the positive COM work for CESR was reduced compared to CONV and PRES. However, the net metabolic cost for CESR did not change compared to CONV and increased compared to PRES, which may partially reflect the greater weight, lack of individualized size and stiffness and relatively less familiarity for CESR and CONV. Controlled energy storage and return enhanced prosthetic push-off, but requires further design modifications to improve amputee walking economy.
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