Amputee locomotion: Frequency content of prosthetic vs. intact limb vertical ground reaction forces during running and the effects of filter cut-off frequency

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Compared to intact limbs, running-specific prostheses have high resonance non-biologic materials and lack active tissues to damp high frequencies. These differences may lead to ground reaction forces (GRFs) with high frequency content. If so, ubiquitously applying low-pass filters to prosthetic and intact limb GRFs may attenuate veridical high frequency content and mask important and ecologically valid data from prostheses. To explore differences in frequency content between prosthetic and intact limbs we divided signal power from transtibial unilateral amputees and controls running at 2.5, 3.0, and 3.5 m/s into Low (<10 Hz), High (10–25 Hz), and Non-biologic (>25 Hz) frequency bandwidths. Faster speeds tended to reduce the proportion of signal power in the Low bandwidth while increasing it in the High and Non-biologic bandwidths. Further, prostheses had lower proportions of signal power at the High frequency bandwidth but greater proportions at the Non-biologic bandwidth. To evaluate whether these differences in frequency content interact with filter cut-offs and alter results, we filtered GRFs with cut-offs from 1 to 100 Hz and calculated vertical impact peak (VIP). Changing cut-off had inconsistent effects on VIP across speeds and limbs: Faster speeds had significantly larger changes in VIP per change in cut-off while, compared to controls, prosthetic limbs had significantly smaller changes in VIP per change in cut-off. These findings reveal differences in GRF frequency content between prosthetic and intact limbs and suggest that a cut-off frequency that is appropriate for one limb or speed may be inappropriate for another.

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