[Walking activity in prosthesis-bearing lower-limb amputees]

G-A Carmona, A Lacraz, M Assal
Revue de Chirurgie Orthopédique et Réparatrice de L'appareil Moteur 2007, 93 (2): 109-15

PURPOSE OF THE STUDY: A large body of literature has been devoted to gait analysis in amputees. Most studies have been conducted in the laboratory setting where numerous variables are analyzed: gait efficiency, energy cost, walking velocity. At the present time however, data are lacking on the real-life use of walking prostheses. Little is known about how long patients wear their prosthesis or how difficult it is for them to walk during different periods of the day. Currently, such information depends on the quality of the interview and the patient-physician relationship. A precise assessment of walking activity in amputees and use of prostheses would be a valuable source of information for therapists and would provide complimentary information to that collected from laboratory gait analysis. The purpose of this study was to study walking activity in home-dwelling prosthesis-bearing lower-limb amputees and to determine variables affecting walking performance. To our knowledge, this is the first published study on this topic.

MATERIAL AND METHODS: The series included home-dwelling prosthesis-wearing lower-limb amputees (Syme amputation or more proximal) who were able to get up and go without assistance. A StepWatch3 recorder was implanted on the prosthesis for 15 consecutive days. Variables recorded were number of steps, total walking time, and walking velocity. Variables which might affect walking in prosthesis-wearing amputees were also recorded: body mass index, use of a walking aid, level and reason for amputation, age at amputation and at recording, time between amputation and recording.

RESULTS: From June 2004 to May 2005, 43 patients wore the StepWatch3 for the scheduled 15 days during their daily activities. Mean age at amputation was 42 years (range 13-78 years) and at recording 52 years (range 25-85 years). Considered separately, gait parameters showed that all of the patients wore their prosthesis daily and that the best walking performance was significantly observed among below-knee amputees who did not use a walking aid and who underwent amputation for a non-vascular cause. Multivariate analysis revealed that above-knee amputees lost 93 minutes of walking time per day (21% loss), and that amputees who used a walking aid lost 58 minutes per day (13% loss). Daily walking time declined 2.5 minutes per year of age. Body mass index was not correlated with total daily walking time but had a direct significant effect on walking velocity.

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