Individuals with lower-limb amputations often have decreased functional capacities, especially during walking. Gait assessments in clinical settings are used to provide feedback without distinctly quantifying gait parameters, unlike new technologies such as inertial sensors (inertial measurement units) (IMUs), which have demonstrated their effectiveness in different environments and populations.
A study published online May 21 in the journal ScienceDirect examined how the spatial-temporal gait parameters and kinematics of those with lower-limb amputations evolved over a six-minute walk test (6MWT) and whether the use of inertial sensors was relevant in clinical practice to quantify those parameters.
Fifteen individuals with recent lower-limb amputations performed a 6MWT post-rehabilitation, wearing inertial sensors on both feet to provide gait parameters (i.e., minimum toe clearance, speed, cadence, stance time, and foot flat ratio). Researchers compared the evolution of each parameter over the 6MWT (12 intervals of 30 seconds).
Results of the study showed that minimum toe clearance and stance phase variability along the 6MWT were significantly different over time. Cadence variability and speed variation were also significantly different between both feet, the study found.
The increased variability in gait parameters along the 6MWT suggested a greater risk of future mobility problems following a return to living and working in the community. However, according to the study’s authors, the data provided by the inertial measurement units reflect the potential of the clinical rehabilitation program and may help clinicians refine their interventions.