Proper selection of prosthetic foot-ankle components with appropriate design characteristics is critical for successful amputee rehabilitation. Elastic energy storage and return (ESAR) feet have been developed in an effort to improve amputee gait. However, the clinical efficacy of ESAR feet has been inconsistent, which could be due to inappropriate stiffness levels prescribed for a given amputee. Although a number of studies have analyzed the effect of ESAR feet on gait performance, the relationships between the stiffness characteristics and gait performance are not well understood. A challenge to understanding these relationships is the inability of current manufacturing techniques to easily generate feet with varying stiffness levels. The objective of this study was to develop a rapid prototyping framework using selective laser sintering (SLS) for the creation of prosthetic feet that can be used as a means to quantify the influence of varying foot stiffness on transtibial amputee walking. The framework successfully duplicated the stiffness characteristics of a commercial carbon fiber ESAR foot. The feet were mechanically tested and an experimental case study was performed to verify that the locomotor characteristics of the amputee’s gait were the same when walking with the carbon fiber ESAR and SLS designs. Three-dimensional ground reaction force, kinematic, and kinetic quantities were measured while the subject walked at 1.2 m/s. The SLS foot was able to replicate the mechanical loading response and locomotor patterns of the ESAR foot within standard deviations. This validated the current framework as a means to fabricate SLS-based ESAR prosthetic feet. Future work will be directed at creating feet with a range of stiffness levels to investigate appropriate prescription criteria.
Manufacture of Energy Storage and Return Prosthetic Feet Using Selective Laser Sintering
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South, B. J., Fey, N. P., Bosker, G., and Neptune, R. R. (December 18, 2009). "Manufacture of Energy Storage and Return Prosthetic Feet Using Selective Laser Sintering." ASME. J Biomech Eng. January 2010; 132(1): 015001. https://doi.org/10.1115/1.4000166
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