Transfemoral amputees often report that walking on tilted pavements or on terrain with the prosthesis on the side of higher elevation is quite strenuous. This study investigates the energy expenditure of transfemoral amputees (n = 8) on a motorized treadmill, simulating different strenuous outdoor walking conditions.
Oxygen uptake at self-selected speed of gait was measured during walking at three different treadmill positions: (i) Horizontal treadmill, (ii) 3% tilt in the sagittal plane and (iii) 3% tilt in both the sagittal and frontal plane of the treadmill.
The difference in median values of oxygen uptake between position (i) and (ii) was 4.3%, and 16.4% between position (ii) and (iii) (p ≤ 0.05, for both comparisons). The subjects utilized about 50% of their VO2max when walking in position (i) and (ii), with an increase to about 60% of their VO2max when walking in position (iii).
Transfemoral amputees use significantly more energy when walking on a moderately tilted surface in the frontal plane compared to walking with a tilt in the sagittal plane. This is probably because the prosthetic leg becomes functionally too long when the walking surface is tilted sideways, and the transfemoral amputees adopt a more energy consuming gait pattern.