View Full Version : amputee sprinting

05-29-2007, 10:12 PM
I've just returned from my holidays, so have only just seen this discussion.

One of the studies I did for my PhD determined the biomechanical adaptations
in unilateral trans-tibial amputee sprinters (Paralympians) using 2
different types of running prostheses,

published as: Buckley JG. (2000) Biomechanical adaptations of transtibial
sprinting in athletes using dedicated prostheses Clinical Biomechanics,

In this study I showed that at best, all a (passive) prosthesis can do is
return (in an elastic manner) the energy it is able to store following foot
contact. But of course, for an amputee to benefit from this energy return,
the deformation and recoil of the prosthesis needs to occur at an optimal
frequency (related to contact time). It is difficult to imagine that this
could occur for all phases of a 100m sprint, i.e. both the acceleration and
maximum speed phases (I looked at only the maximum speed phase).

I was also able to show that in using such prostheses the amputee subjects
had a prolonged hip extension moment on the prosthetic limb (with an
accompanying increase in positive work) and/or an increased extension moment
at the residual knee (and accompanying increase in positive and negative
work done). This suggests there would also be an increase in physiological
work done.

The above findings highlight that an amputee has no advantage over an
able-bodied sprinter. And thus from my perspective, I can see no reason why
an amputee shouldn't compete along side an able-bodied athlete.

Of course the above research was conducted over seven years ago, and I
haven't kept up with prosthetic developments (but I presume the new types of
running prostheses are still passive, i.e. have no external power?). In
addition the above study was undertaking on unilateral amputees and of
course the current discussion on Biomch-l is related to a bi-lateral

I hope this helps the discussion

John Buckley, PhD
RCUK Research Fellow
University of Bradford
Chesham, EDT5

+44 (0)1274 234641