Prosthetic foot stiffness has been recognized as an important factor in optimizing the walking performance of amputees [1–3]. Commercial feet are available in a range of stiffness categories and geometries. The stiffness of linear displacements of the hindfoot and forefoot for several commercially available feet have been reported to be within a range of 27–68 N/mm [4] and 28–76 N/mm [5], respectively, but these values are most relevant only to the earliest and latest portions of stance phase, when linear compression or rebound naturally occur. In contrast, mid-stance kinetics are more related to the angular stiffness of the foot, which describes the ankle torque produced by angular progression of the lower limb over the foot during this phase. Little data is available regarding the angular stiffness of any commercially available feet. The variety of geometries between manufacturers and models of prosthetic feet makes a direct calculation of effective angular stiffness challenging due to changes in moment arms based on loading condition, intricacies of deformation mechanics of the structural components, and mechanical interaction between hindfoot and forefoot components. Thus, modeling the interaction between hindfoot stiffness, forefoot stiffness, and keel geometries and their combined effect on the angular stiffness of the foot may be a useful tool for correlating functional outcomes with stiffness characteristics of various feet. To understand how each of these factors affects angular stiffness, we developed a foot that can parametrically adjust each of these factors independently. The objective of this study was to mathematically model, design, and experimentally validate a prosthetic foot that has independent hindfoot and forefoot components, allowing for parametric adjustment of stiffness characteristics and keel geometry in future studies of amputee gait.

This content is only available via PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.