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Patient-specific analyses of deep tissue loads post transtibial amputation in residual limbs of multiple prosthetic users

Journal of Biomechanics
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/j.jbiomech.2009.08.019
  • Deep Tissue Injury
  • Pressure Ulcer
  • Patient-Specific Finite Element Model
  • Rehabilitation
  • Prosthesis
  • Engineering
  • Mathematics


Abstract Active transtibial amputation (TTA) patients are at risk for developing pressure ulcers (PU) and deep tissue injury (DTI) while using their prosthesis. It is therefore important to obtain knowledge of the mechanical state in the internal soft tissues of the residuum, as well as knowledge of the mechanical state upon its surface. Our aim was to apply patient-specific MRI-based non-linear finite element (FE) models to quantify internal strains in TTA prosthetic users ( n=5) during load-bearing. By further employing a strain injury threshold for skeletal muscle, we identified patients susceptible to DTI. The geometrical characteristics of the residuum of the TTA participants varied substantially between patients, e.g. the residuum lengths were 7.6, 8.1, 9.2, 11.5 and 13.3 cm. We generally found that internal strains were higher in the bone proximity than in the muscle flap periphery. The highest strains, which in some patients exceeded 50% (engineering strain) for compressive, tensile and shear strains, were found in the shortest residual limbs, i.e. the 7.6 and 8.1 cm-long limbs. Correspondingly, the lowest strains were found in the 13.3 cm-long residuum, which had the bulkiest muscle flap. Yet, even in the case of a long residuum, about a third of the soft tissue volume at the distal tibial proximity area was occupied by large (>5%) internal compressive, tensile and shear strains. For both patients with shorter residual limbs, the internal principal compressive strains above 5% occupied almost the entire distal tibial proximity area. For a patient whose distal tibial end was flat (non-beveled), internal strains were more uniformly distributed, compared to the strain distributions in the other models, where focal elevated strains accumulated in the bone proximity. We found no muscle strains above the immediate injury threshold, indicating that all patients were not at immediate risk for DTI. Two patients whose residuum fat padding was minimal to none, were the only ones identified as theoretically prone to DTI at long (>3 h) continuous weight-bearing periods. We conclude that there is a wide variability in internal mechanical conditions between residual limbs across subjects, which necessitates patient-specific quantitative analyses of internal mechanical states in TTA patients, to assess the mechanical performance of the reconstructed limb and in particular, the individual risk for deep PU or DTI.

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