Above-Knee Prosthesis Technology By Dr. ir. Paul G. van de Veen P.G. van de Veen Consultancy, Enschede, The Netherlands, 2001, 152 pages, $30.00
The author of Above-Knee Prosthesis Technology is a Dutch consulting engineer with an abiding interest in prosthetic knees. The book stems from the author’s own prosthetic studies and looks at a wide variety of knees. The author’s goal is not to provide an all-inclusive text, but rather to use illustrative examples in a discussion of the various design principles involved.
Above-Knee Prosthesis Technology begins with a brief history of prosthetic design, then introduces van de Veen’s system for the classification of knees. In its essence, this system categorizes knees as to the method of swing phase and stance phase control employed by the prosthetic user. In each instance, the biomechanical principles and requirements involved are explored, then the mechanical methods with which each type of knee responds to these requirements are discussed.
The bulk of the book is devoted to reviewing the various methods employed in stance phase control. Considerable attention is devoted to polycentric designs—a focus that is perhaps the book’s most valuable feature. The author covers a wide variety of styles and designs in considerable detail, and anyone interested in prosthetic knees would benefit from studying the material presented.
Despite the book’s many strengths, however, it must be conceded that its quality is uneven. Above-Knee Prosthesis Technology has neither a bibliography nor list of references. This lack diminishes its value as a serious work of scholarship. Furthermore, although many of the biomechanical principles presented in the book (and the illustrations that illuminate these principles) are derived from the work of Professor Charles Radcliffe, no attribution is given to Radcliffe’s work. Because of this, a reader without knowledge of the field would be unaware of the work’s origins. The author apparently published the book himself without the services of an editor. To illustrate, in his history of above-knee prosthetics, the van de Veen states that “Charles developed what became known as the Quadrilateral socket.” This statement is clearly both an attribution to Radcliffe and an editorial lapse. The assistance of someone that could have looked at the manuscript in an objective, uninvolved fashion would no doubt have helped the author avoid such problems and clarify the presentation. Wisely enough, perhaps, the author resists the temptation to provide specific prescription recommendations.
Aside from its uneven quality, this book is thorough and exhaustive. Underlying principles are discussed throughout the text and used to explain the various prosthetic knees designs. As such, Above-Knee Prosthesis Technology would be a useful reference for anyone interested in prosthetic knees.