Lower-limb prosthesis users have commonly-recognized deficits in gait and posture control. However, existing methods in balance and mobility analysis fail to provide sufficient sensitivity to detect changes in prosthesis users' postural control and mobility in response to clinical intervention or experimental manipulations and often fail to detect differences between prosthesis users and non-amputee control subjects. This lack of sensitivity limits the ability of clinicians to make informed clinical decisions and presents challenges with insurance reimbursement for comprehensive clinical care and advanced prosthetic devices. These issues have directly impacted clinical care by restricting device options, increasing financial burden on clinics, and limiting support for research and development. This work aims to establish experimental methods and outcome measures that are more sensitive than traditional methods to balance and mobility changes in prosthesis users. Methods and analysis techniques were developed to probe aspects of balance and mobility control that may be specifically impacted by use of a prosthesis and present challenges similar to those experienced in daily life that could improve the detection of balance and mobility changes. Using the framework of cognitive resource allocation and dual-tasking, this work identified unique characteristics of prosthesis users’ postural control and developed sensitive measures of gait variability. The results also provide broader insight into dual-task analysis and the motor-cognitive response to demanding conditions. Specifically, this work identified altered motor behavior in prosthesis users and high cognitive demand of using a prosthesis. The residual standard deviation method was developed and demonstrated to be more effective than traditional gait variability measures at detecting the impact of dual-tasking. Additionally, spectral analysis of the center of pressure while standing identified altered somatosensory control in prosthesis users. These findings provide a new understanding of prosthetic use and new, highly sensitive techniques to assess balance and mobility in prosthesis users.
- Techniques to Assess Balance and Mobility in Lower-Limb Prosthesis Users