Mobility in individuals with traumatic lower-limb injuries : implications for device design, surgical intervention and rehabilitation therapies
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Traumatic injuries to the extremities are commonly observed in emergency room patients and military personnel in combat. Restoring high mobility and functionality is a primary goal post-injury, which may require the use of rehabilitative devices, surgical interventions, and rehabilitation therapies. The research detailed in this dissertation investigates specific elements of these approaches through the use of experimental study and modeling and simulation. In the first study, the influence of passive-dynamic ankle-foot orthosis bending axis on the gait performance of limb salvage subjects was investigated. Bending axis location was altered by fabricating customized orthosis components using additive manufacturing and was tested in a gait laboratory. Altering bending axis location did not result in large or consistent changes in gait measures, however subjects expressed strong preferences for bending axis condition and preference was strongly related to specific gait measures. This suggests that preference and comfort are important factors guiding the prescription of bending axis location. In the second study, musculoskeletal modeling was used to examine the influence of transfemoral amputation surgical techniques on muscle capacity to generate forces and moments about the hip. Muscle reattachment tension and stabilization were shown to be critical parameters for post-amputation capacity, which supports the use of myodesis stabilization (muscle is reattached directly to bone) in amputation procedures. In the third study, a forward dynamics simulation of transfemoral amputee gait was developed and used to examine individual muscle and prosthesis contributions to walking subtasks. The residual hip muscles, and intact ankle, knee, and hip muscles worked synergistically to provide body support, anteroposterior propulsion, mediolateral control, and leg swing. Increased contributions of contralateral muscles to ipsilateral subtasks as well as increased duration of specific muscle contributions were observed in comparison to non-amputee and transtibial amputee walking. These findings can be used to help develop targeted rehabilitation therapies and improve transfemoral amputee locomotion. Through elucidating the influence of PD-AFO bending axis on gait performance as well as the influence of transfemoral amputation surgical techniques on muscle capacity and function, this research provides a foundation for improved rehabilitation outcomes, and thus mobility for individuals who have experienced traumatic lower-limb injuries.