Assessing the relative contributions of active ankle and knee assistance to the walking mechanics of transfemoral amputees using a powered prosthesis

Kimberly M. Ingraham, Nicholas P. Fey, Ann M. Simon, Levi J. Hargrove

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

15 Scopus citations


Powered knee-ankle prostheses are capable of providing net-positive mechanical energy to amputees. Yet, there are limitless ways to deliver this energy throughout the gait cycle. It remains largely unknown how different combinations of active knee and ankle assistance affect the walking mechanics of transfemoral amputees. This study assessed the relative contributions of stance phase knee swing initiation, increasing ankle stiffness and powered plantarflexion as three unilateral transfemoral amputees walked overground at their selfselected walking speed. Five combinations of knee and ankle conditions were evaluated regarding the kinematics and kinetics of the amputated and intact legs using repeated measures analyses of variance. We found eliminating active knee swing initiation or powered plantarflexion was linked to increased compensations of the ipsilateral hip joint during the subsequent swing phase. The elimination of knee swing initiation or powered plantarflexion also led to reduced braking ground reaction forces of the amputated and intact legs, and influenced both sagittal and frontal plane loading of the intact knee joint. Gradually increasing prosthetic ankle stiffness influenced the shape of the prosthetic ankle plantarflexion moment, more closely mirroring the intact ankle moment. Increasing ankle stiffness also corresponded to increased prosthetic ankle power generation (despite a similar maximum stiffness value across conditions) and increased braking ground reaction forces of the amputated leg. These findings further our understanding of how to deliver assistance with powered knee-ankle prostheses and the compensations that occur when specific aspects of assistance are added/removed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0147661
JournalPLoS One
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

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