The influence of increasing steady-state walking speed on muscle activity in below-knee amputees

N. P. Fey, A. K. Silverman, R. R. Neptune

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

35 Scopus citations


The goal of this study was to identify changes in muscle activity in below-knee amputees in response to increasing steady-state walking speeds. Bilateral electromyographic (EMG) data were collected from 14 amputee and 10 non-amputee subjects during four overground walking speeds from eight intact leg and five residual leg muscles. Using integrated EMG measures, we tested three hypotheses for each muscle: (1) there would be no difference in muscle activity between the residual and intact legs, (2) there would be no difference in muscle activity between the intact leg and non-amputee legs, and (3) muscle activity in the residual and intact legs would increase with speed. Most amputee EMG patterns were similar between legs and increased in magnitude with speed. Differences occurred in the residual leg biceps femoris long head, vastus lateralis and rectus femoris, which increased in magnitude during braking compared to the intact leg. These adaptations were consistent with the need for additional body support and forward propulsion in the absence of the plantar flexors. With the exception of the intact leg gluteus medius, all intact leg muscles exhibited similar EMG patterns compared to the control leg. Finally, the residual, intact and control leg EMG all had a significant speed effect that increased with speed with the exception of the gluteus medius.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)155-161
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Electromyography and Kinesiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2010



  • Biomechanics
  • Electromyography
  • Gait
  • Transtibial amputee

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience (miscellaneous)
  • Biophysics
  • Clinical Neurology

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