Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Health Sciences

First Advisor

Brooke A. Slavens

Committee Members

Roger O. Smith, Kristian M. O'Connor, Kurt E. Beschorner, Douglas Briggs


Amputee Gait, Ipecs, Physical Exertion, Prosthesis Alignment, Subtle Perturbation, Trans-Tibial Prosthesis


This study investigated the effects of slight changes in the alignment of the artificial limb of trans-tibial amputees on the walking pattern on the level of forces and moments, particularly when physical exertion levels increase. Two alignment conditions were assessed in ten trans-tibial amputees while walking with low and with "strong" levels of exertion. Two separate data collection methods were utilized simultaneously: a conventional motion analysis, and continuous recordings from prosthesis-integrated force sensors. While the former was used to compare bilateral leg symmetry across conditions, the latter allowed analyzing unilateral step variability within subjects. This paper presents both analyses in separate chapters. A third chapter addresses the question of concurrent validity of the utilized integrated-sensor-based gait data collection method.

Findings indicate that increased physical exertion and prosthesis ankle plantar-flexion angle was related to decreases in step length symmetry, maximal knee flexion angle, knee moment, and dorsi-flexion moment, but had no significant effect on an overall gait symmetry index. It was also shown, that effects were different among participants, with only three of them showing a significant change in parameters measured by the integrated sensor system. Integrated sensor measurements namely of axial force and joint moments were found to be closely correlated to conventional measurements, while pertaining to slightly different biomechanical quantities.

The detected effects of alignment perturbations and physical exertion were small in magnitude and inconsistent between participants of our sample population. The concept of a range of acceptable prosthesis alignments, within which no optimization is feasible, is supported. However, amputee gait pattern and responses to alignment perturbations seem to change with the level of exertion. This suggests a consideration of real life conditions for the individual optimization of prosthetic alignment. Provided the systematic limitations of the integrated sensor measurements are carefully considered, it appears possible to use this method for the assessment of individual effects of alignment changes.