Approximately 40,000 transtibial amputations occur each year in the United States. Current lower leg prosthetic options range from passive artificial limbs to computerized electronic models . Because of insurance limitations, most patients use less sophisticated prosthetics. The average cost of lower leg prosthetics and corresponding medical care for single-leg veterans is at least $1.4 million due to increased rehabilitation times . Gait training methods for transtibial amputees include extended rehabilitation processes lasting up to 9 months. These exercises provide no empirical data to analyze patient gait progress.
The device design is a wearable technology that acquires gait information that is evidentiary for physicians when deciding to continue or dismiss further rehabilitation and follow up medical appointments. The technology includes a gyroscope, accelerometer, microprocessor, and electronic components housed in a 3D printed casing that is attachable to any prosthetic, or a biological leg. Pressure sensors are embedded into a sock-like foot covering that is used in tandem with the other electronics.
Gait data collection was validated by comparing gait parameter values with literature values. A series of control tests on non-amputees was conducted in order to gather standard data and develop consistent testing practices for the prototype design. These findings are used as a reference when evaluating amputee gait data against non-amputee gait data.
As the microprocessor collects data, information is stored onto a memory card used to relay data to the developed program for data analysis. Data analysis is supported by a graphical user interface via LabView which provides valuable gait data to physicians and physical therapists. Gait data analysis is expected to result in asymmetrical patterns for below-the-knee amputees compared to non-amputees as well as abnormal pressure loads throughout the foot .