Study: Effect of prostheses on athletic performance varies by amputation type, event type

Researchers at Bournemouth University are studying the impact of lower limb prostheses on competitive running, specifically with regard to whether the use of prostheses can put athletes at an unfair advantage against competitors.

In their first study, the results of which were published in 2014, Hossein Hossani, PhD, an associate professor in the Department of Accounting, Finance and Economics, and colleagues analyzed the results of the men’s running events performed at the London 2012 Paralympics Games by three different classifications of athletes with an amputation.

These classifications included athletes with both transfemoral and transtibial amputations, and both single and double amputations. The study compared within and between these classifications.

“Ultimately, this study provides statistical evidence to propose that the number of prosthetic limbs used, the design of such limbs and the length of the event that they are used in has a significant impact on the results of competitions at the Paralympic Games,” Hossani said in a press release. “As a result, this study reveals that the disability sport stakeholders should not just look at the prosthetics technology generally, they should also consider the type of event that they are being used in and the way athletes within these events are classified.”

The use of prostheses designed for running could propel athletes in a way that is different than able-bodied athletes, according to Hossani.

These findings were confirmed in a second, recently published study, in which the researchers analyzed the running performance of athletes with lower limb amputations at the Paralympic Games between 2004 and 2012. The researchers concluded the Paralympic Games should hold separate events for the T42, T43 and T44 classifications, as transtibial amputees consistently outperformed transfemoral amputees, and bilateral lower limb amputees were shown to have an advantage compared with unilateral lower limb amputees in long running competition.


Hassani H, et al. Sports. 2015; doi:10.3390/sports3020103.

Hassani H, et al. Sports. 2014; doi:10.3390/sports2040076.

Disclosure: Hassani reports no relevant financial disclosures.

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