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On the Possibility of Achieving Near-Normal Swing Phase of Walking with Passive Single-Axis and Polycentric Knees

A Simulation Approach

Sudeesh, S., MTech; Sujatha, S., PhD; Shunmugam, M.S., PhD

JPO: Journal of Prosthetics and Orthotics: February 12, 2019 - Volume Online First - Issue - p
doi: 10.1097/JPO.0000000000000251
Original Research Article: PDF Only

Introduction A new passive polycentric knee called IITM polycentric knee (IPK), where IITM stands for the authors' institution, namely, Indian Institute of Technology Madras, was designed to provide better functionality at a reduced cost. The design of the knee was based on stance phase stability criteria and toe clearance during the swing phase for users in developing countries to handle uneven terrain. The present study features a simulation-based dynamic analysis of a passive single-axis knee (SAK) and IPK to understand the swing phase behavior of the IPK with respect to SAK. This study aims at understanding the advantages and disadvantages of the IPK against a passive SAK to improve its design criteria and enable further development to provide better functionality to the existing passive SAK users.

Methods Lower-limb models of a normal leg and prosthetic legs with SAK and IPK were created, their swing phases were simulated, and gait parameters were analyzed. The passive knees in the present study have only frictional damping and no active knee moments, implying the requirement of compensatory strategies for forward progression of the swinging leg. The required frictional damping at the knee joint to obtain near-normal knee motion and the compensations required while using the SAK and IPK were obtained by simulation. The lower-limb dynamics obtained from the simulations was analyzed to understand the performance of the SAK and IPK during swing.

Results This study shows that the IPK is superior to an SAK in terms of achieving knee extension in preparation for stance, even without an extension assist and with lower hip effort. The peak hip power during swing with the IPK was 58.7% less than with the SAK. A negative heel clearance was found in terminal swing with the IPK, which demands a compensatory strategy for foot clearance during the swing and shows the necessity for inclusion of a heel clearance parameter in the design of polycentric knees.

Conclusions The present work focuses on the swing behavior comparison of passive single-axis and polycentric knees. The study provides insight into the compensatory strategies required to achieve successful forward progression of the swinging leg with both types of knees. The analysis shows the potential for a well-designed passive polycentric knee to be a cost-effective alternative to achieve near-normal swing during walking.

S. SUDEESH, MTech; SRINIVASAN SUJATHA, PhD; and M.S. SHUNMUGAM, PhD, are affiliated with the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology Madras, Chennai, India.

Disclosure: The authors declare no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the authorship and/or publication of this article.

Funding: The authors received no financial support for the authorship and/or publication of this article. We acknowledge the support of the Society for BioMedical Technology and the TTK Center for R2D2 for funding the development of the IPK.

Correspondence to: Srinivasan Sujatha, PhD, TTK Center for Rehabilitation Research and Device Development (R2D2), Department of Mechanical Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology, Madras Chennai, 600036 India; email:

© 2019 by the American Academy of Orthotists and Prosthetists.