Effects of RSPs Biomechanical Variables on Running Economy and How Optimal Settings Compare to Non-Amputee Athletes
Date of Award
Master of Science in Orthotics and Prosthetics
Lower limb amputee athletes use carbon fiber running specific prostheses (RSP) to run. RSP stiffness, height, and alignment can be adjusted on an individual level to optimize the athlete’s running economy. With the advancement of RSPs, the question arises whether RSPs provide an economical advantage compared to than biological legs. Data suggests that RSPs do not fully replicate biological legs and their function. Rather, RSP stiffness improves a runner’s running economy to effectively store and return energy similar to a spring to propel the runner forward. Transtibial and transfemoral amputees must exert more energy and stimulate upper leg and core muscles to run an equivalent speed of an elite runner (Mengelkoch, Kahle, & Highsmith, 2016). Although an amputee’s running economy values are consistently not as efficient as nonamputees, the economy values are close in range.