Prosthetic feet are designed to store energy during early stance and then release a portion of that energy during late stance. The usefulness of providing more energy return depends on whether or not that energy transfers up the lower limb to aid in whole body propulsion. This research examined how increasing prosthetic foot energy return affected walking mechanics across various slopes. Five people with a uni-lateral transtibial amputation walked on an instrumented treadmill at 1.1 m/s for three conditions (level ground, +7.5°, -7.5°) while wearing a prosthetic foot with a novel linkage system and a traditional energy storage and return foot. The novel foot demonstrated greater range of motion (p = 0.0012), and returned more energy (p = 0.023) compared to the traditional foot. The increased energy correlated with an increase in center of mass (CoM) energy change during propulsion from the prosthetic limb (p = 0.012), and the increased prosthetic limb propulsion correlated to a decrease in CoM energy change (i.e., collision) on the sound limb (p < 0.001). These data indicate that this novel foot was able to return more energy than a traditional prosthetic foot and that this additional energy was used to increase whole body propulsion.
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