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Technical Briefs

Design and Validation of a Knee Brace With Feedback to Reduce the Rate of Loading

[+] Author and Article Information
J. L. Riskowski1

Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47902jlriskowski2@utep.edu

A. E. Mikesky

Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, IN 46202; School of Physical Education and Tourism Management, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, Indianapolis, IN 46202

R. E. Bahamonde

School of Physical Education and Tourism Management, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, Indianapolis, IN 46202

D. B. Burr

Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47902; Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, and Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, IN 46202; Department of Biomedical Engineering, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, Indianapolis, IN 46202

1

Corresponding author. Present address: 1101 N. Campbell, College of Health Sciences, University of Texas at El Paso, El Paso, TX 79902.

J Biomech Eng 131(8), 084503 (Jul 06, 2009) (6 pages) doi:10.1115/1.3148858 History: Received July 05, 2008; Revised April 19, 2009; Published July 06, 2009

The repetitive nature of walking can lead to repetitive stress and associated complications due to the rate of loading (ROL) experienced by the body at the initial contact of the foot with the ground. An individual’s gait kinematics at initial contact has been suggested to give rise to the ROL, and a repetitive, high ROL may lead to several disorders, including osteoarthritis. We present the design, development, and validation of a knee brace that provides feedback to the user during gait. The feedback consists of an auditory signal when the specific parameters of knee angle or tibial acceleration 50 ms prior to contact are exceeded. Nine women were recruited for the gait analysis, and the gait characteristics with and without the brace and feedback are analyzed. Our results indicate that using a knee brace with feedback can effectively change the gait kinematics used during walking, leading to a reduced ROL experienced at initial contact. Using a knee brace with feedback is a novel approach to gait retraining. Al-though the kinetics of how the subjects change in gait pattern is unknown, the reduced ROL experienced is significant and warrants further investigation.

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Copyright © 2009 by American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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Figures

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Figure 2

Ground reaction curve demonstrating the heelstrike transient. Point A represents the local maximum force generated within the 50 ms after contact. The A/B ratio can be used to classify individuals as heelstrikers or nonheelstrikers. The dashed line represents the portion of the curve used to determine the ROL, and the graph is normalized by the BW (13).

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Figure 1

A subject wearing knee brace with feedback

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Figure 3

Knee angle through the gait cycle using the brace with feedback in comparison to walking without it. The solid lines represent the mean value of the knee angle, and the dashed lines represent the standard deviation. Knee angle represents degree of flexion; negative values are hyperextension.

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Figure 4

The average GRF in the two conditions of unbraced gait and gait with the brace and feedback. The solid black line represents the average GRF when wearing the knee brace with feedback, and the lighter shaded gray represents the average unbraced (normal) GRF of the subjects. The main difference is seen within the initial portion of the stance cycle as the subject is loading the body, which yielded a significant decrease (p<0.05) as a result wearing the knee brace. (a) shows the GRF in its entirety, whereas (b) shows the initial 7.5% of the GRF to focus on and highlight the ROL differences between the two conditions.

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