Effects of RSPs Biomechanical Variables on Running Economy and How Optimal Settings Compare to Non-Amputee Athletes

Date of Award

Summer 6-28-2023

Document Type

Non Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Orthotics and Prosthetics



First Advisor

Darren Wiens

Second Advisor

Lana Huberty


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.


This research is dedicated Ian Vallejo and friends Léa Richer, Arianna Renteria, Elizabeth Oswald, and Luis Valentin who knew him well and will use his inspiration to spread mobility across the nation.

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