Study: Amputees Felt Safer With Prosthetic Foot

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Study participants who tested a microprocessor-controlled prosthetic foot component with adjustable stance-phase characteristics, the Meridium, Ottobock, Duderstadt, Germany, reported improvements in walking on level and uneven ground, and on ramps compared to their previous prosthetic feet. Participants also perceived benefits with safe, comfortable, and natural walking.

A study published online February 5 in Prosthetics and Orthotics International examined individuals' and prosthetists' perception of safety, walking, and satisfaction during first routine fittings. Data regarding demographics, fitting process, safety, daily life activities, and satisfaction were obtained through questionnaires. The follow-up period was seven months.

Of the 70 participants, 89 percent were satisfactorily fitted within the first two visits. Compared to their previous prosthetic feet, 54 percent of those participating in the study reported improvements in walking on level ground, 82 percent on uneven ground, and ascending, and descending ramps, 97 percent and 91 percent, respectively. More than 45 percent of the users perceived an improvement in safety and stability while standing and walking, the study found. No difference was observed in concentration, exertion, and pain. Overall user satisfaction was 50 percent and the microprocessor-controlled foot was preferred by 40 percent of users. Amputation level, age, and mobility grade did not influence subjects' preference.

While the perception of benefits regarding the negotiation of uneven terrain and slopes was high, the correlation to product preference was moderate, the study found.