A comparative study of the physiological costs of walking in ten bilateral amputees

Wright, D A and Marks, L and Payne, R C (2008) A comparative study of the physiological costs of walking in ten bilateral amputees. Prosthetics and Orthotics International, 32 (1). pp. 57-67.

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Abstract

The physiological cost of walking is greater in bilateral amputees (BA) than in both unilateral amputee and non-pathological gait. The aim of this study was to describe the physiological costs and other standard gait characteristics in a sample population of BA, walking at self-selected (comfortable) speeds. Amputees had bilateral trans-tibial, bilateral trans-femoral or trans-tibial/trans-femoral amputations as a result of trauma or congenital defects. All amputees wore their own prosthetic limbs which were either full-length prostheses or short non-articulating pylon prostheses (SNAPPs). The results were compared with a base line data set collected from a non-pathological control group. It was anticipated that amputees with high-level amputations would walk at the slowest speeds, have the highest physiological costs and lowest perception of walking ability. However, varying walking speeds resulted in varying exercise intensities, exercise heart rates and perceptions of walking that could not be directly related to amputation levels. It is therefore concluded that bilateral amputee gait is complex, varied and not easily categorized.