Joint work and ground reaction forces during running with daily-use and running-specific prostheses

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Some individuals with a transtibial amputation (TTA) may not have access to running-specific prostheses and therefore choose to run using their daily-use prosthesis. Unlike running-specific prostheses, daily-use prostheses are not designed for running and may result in biomechanical differences that influence injury risk. To investigate these potential differences, we assessed the effect of amputation, prosthesis type, and running speed on joint work and ground reaction forces. 13 people with and without a unilateral TTA ran at speeds ranging from 2.5 m/s to 5.0 m/s. People with TTA ran using their own daily-use and running-specific prostheses. Body kinematics and ground reaction forces were collected and used to compute joint work. People with TTA had smaller peak braking, propulsive and medial/lateral ground reaction forces from the amputated leg compared to people without TTA. People wearing running-specific prostheses had smaller peak amputated leg vertical ground reaction forces compared to daily-use prostheses at speeds above 3.5 m/s. Medial/lateral forces were also smaller in running-specific prostheses, which may present balance challenges when running on varied terrain. Running-specific prostheses stored and returned more energy and provided greater propulsion, resulting in more similar positive hip work between legs compared to daily-use prostheses. Increases in positive hip work, but not device work, highlight the importance of the hip in increasing running speed. Running-specific devices may be beneficial for joint health at running-speeds above 3.5 m/s and provide advantages in propulsion and energy return at all speeds compared to daily-use prostheses, helping people with TTA achieve faster running speeds.

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