COMPARATIVE STUDY
JOURNAL ARTICLE

A pilot study examining measures of balance and mobility in children with unilateral lower-limb amputation

Emma Feick, Peggy-Rae Hamilton, Marlene Luis, Melissa Corbin, Nancy M Salback, Ricardo Torres-Moreno, Jan Andrysek
Prosthetics and Orthotics International 2016, 40 (1): 65-74
25515343

BACKGROUND: Individuals with unilateral lower-limb amputation (LLA) have altered structure and physiology of their lower limbs which impairs their balance, mobility, physical function and participation in physical activities. As part of (re)habilitation, focus is given to improving gait and balance in order to enhance overall mobility, function, self-efficacy, and independence. However, the relationships amongst body impairments and physical activity limitations remain unclear, particularly in the pediatric population.

OBJECTIVE: To provide an examination of the relationships among balance and mobility measures in children with unilateral lower-limb amputation and able-bodied children.

STUDY DESIGN: Cross-sectional prospective comparative pilot study.

METHODS: Spatiotemporal gait parameters and standing postural control were evaluated in children with lower-limb amputation (n = 10) and age-matched able-bodied children (n = 10) in a laboratory-based setting. Clinical tests for mobility and balance consisted of the 10-m walk test, the 6-min walk test, and the Community Balance and Mobility scale. Energy expenditure was estimated during the 6-min walk test using the Physiological Cost Index. Analysis included comparing variables between able-bodied and lower-limb amputation groups, as well as examining the correlations among them.

RESULTS: Walking speed, distance, and functional balance (p < 0.05) were significantly diminished in children with lower-limb amputation compared to able-bodied children. For children with lower-limb amputation, reduced energy expenditure was associated with narrower step width and more symmetrical gait; better postural control and balance were associated with faster walking speeds (p < 0.05).

CONCLUSION: A greater clinical understanding of gait and balance deficits in this population may help to improve rehabilitation outcomes and overall functional mobility.

CLINICAL RELEVANCE: Improved understanding of deficits in children with lower-limb amputation (LLA) may lead to more targeted interventions and facilitate clinical decision-making in rehabilitation settings for this population. The findings contribute to the limited literature and provide a basis to further examine suitable clinical outcome measures to be used in children with LLA.

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