Split-belt adaptation and gait symmetry in transtibial amputees walking with a hybrid EMG controlled ankle-foot prosthesis

Kannape, Oliver orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-2930-4118 and Herr, HM (2016) Split-belt adaptation and gait symmetry in transtibial amputees walking with a hybrid EMG controlled ankle-foot prosthesis. 2016 38th Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBC) .

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Official URL: http://doi.org/10.1109/EMBC.2016.7591964


Our ability to automatically adapt our walking pattern to the demands of our environment is central to maintaining a steady gait. Accordingly, a large effort is being made to extend and integrate this adaptability to lower-limb prostheses. To date, the main focus of this research has been on short term adaptation, such as in response to a terrain transition or a sudden change in the environment. However, long term adaptation and underlying sensorimotor learning processes are critical to optimizing walking patterns and predictively changing our gait when faced with continued perturbations. Furthermore, investigating these processes in lower-limb amputees may provide a unique window into the interplay between sensory driven adaptation and top-down cerebellar modulation of locomotor reflexes and may potentially help alleviate gait asymmetries. In the current exploratory study, we therefore investigated adaptation, sensorimotor learning, and gait symmetry in a group of transtibial amputees walking with a hybrid-EMG controlled powered prosthesis and matched controls (both groups N=3). Participants were asked to perform a split-belt walking trial during which the belt on the affected side ran at twice the speed of the contralateral belt (1.0m/s and 0.5m/s respectively). Adaptation, sensorimotor learning, and symmetry are compared to two baseline conditions. Initial results illustrate that the amputees were readily able to use the hybrid controller, modulated their EMG depending on treadmill speed, and successfully adapted their gait during split-belt walking. However, the temporal gait parameters suggest that amputees used a different adaptation technique and showed reduced sensorimotor learning, while gait symmetry was improved, in the short term, post-adaptation.

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