Active ankle-foot prostheses generate mechanical power during the push-off phase of gait, which can offer advantages over passive prostheses. However, these benefits manifest primarily in joint kinetics (e.g., joint work) and energetics (e.g., metabolic cost) rather than balance (whole-body angular momentum, H), and are typically constrained to push-off. The purpose of this study was to analyze differences between active and passive prostheses and non-amputees in coordination of balance throughout gait on ramps. We used Statistical Parametric Mapping (SPM) to analyze time-series contributions of body segments (arms, legs, trunk) to three-dimensional H on uphill, downhill, and level grades. The trunk and prosthetic-side leg contributions to H at toe-off when using the active prosthesis were more similar to non-amputees compared to using a passive prosthesis. However, using either a passive or active prosthesis was different compared to non-amputees in trunk contributions to sagittal-plane H during mid-stance and transverse-plane H at toe-off. The intact side of the body was unaffected by prosthesis type. In contrast to clinical balance assessments (e.g., single-leg standing, functional reach), our analysis identifies significant changes in the mechanics of segmental coordination of balance during specific portions of the gait cycle, providing valuable biofeedback for targeted gait retraining.
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