Microprocessor-controlled prosthetic feet show improved gait in users

BOSTON — Data presented at the American Orthotic and Prosthetic Association National Assembly showed results of a biomechanical evaluation on current microprocessor-controlled prosthetic feet.

Björn Altenburg Dipl.-Ing.(FH), said “the purpose was to find differences or benefits in gait performance, such as how [the devices] react to sudden changes in terrain.”

Björn Altenburg

Researchers conducted a study including eight patients – four patients with transtibial amputation and four patients with transfemoral amputation. Each tried six different prosthetic feet in standardized alignment. Tests included level walking in different speeds, walking on stairs, walking and standing on upward and downward slopes, walking with small steps and backward walking. Tests also included stepping on obstacles, real-time terrain adaption and heel high adaption. Outcomes were recorded using the Vicon motion capturing system.

Altenburg said benefits of the devices included improved slope walking and standing, stair descent, heel height adaption and terrain adaption. Compromises included extra weight, he said. – by Shawn M. Carter


Altenburg, B. Biomechanical investigation of currently available microprocessor-controlled prosthetic feet. Presented at: American Orthotic and Prosthetic Association National Assembly; Sept. 8-11, 2016; Boston.

Disclosure: Altenburg reports he is a full-time employee of Ottobock. Two of the five microprocessor-controlled prosthetic feet in the study are manufactured by OttoBock.

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