Exercise Science and Sport Management

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Introduction: Analysis of human locomotion is challenged by limitations in traditional numerical and statistical methods as applied to continuous timeseries data. This challenge particularly affects understanding of how close limb prostheses are to mimicking anatomical motion. This study was the first to apply a technique called Dynamic Time Warping to measure the biomimesis of prosthetic knee motion in young children and addressed the following research questions: Is a combined dynamic time warping/root mean square analysis feasible for analyzing pediatric lower limb kinematics? When provided at an earlier age than traditional protocols dictate, can children with limb loss utilize an articulating prosthetic knee in a biomimetic manner?

Methods: Warp costs and amplitude differences were generated for knee flexion curves in a sample of ten children five years of age and younger: five with unilateral limb loss and five age-matched typically developing children. Separate comparisons were made for stance phase flexion and swing phase flexion via two-way ANOVAs between bilateral limbs in both groups, and between prosthetic knee vs. dominant anatomical knee in age-matched pairs between groups. Greater warp costs indicated greater temporal dissimilarities, and a follow-up root mean square assessed remaining amplitude dissimilarities. Bilateral results were assessed by age using linear regression.

Results: The technique was successfully applied in this population. Young children with limb loss used a prosthetic knee biomimetically in both stance and swing, with mean warp costs of 12.7 and 3.3, respectively. In the typically developing group, knee motion became more symmetrical with age, but there was no correlation in the limb loss group. In all comparisons, warp costs were significantly greater for stance phase than swing phase. Analyses were limited by the small sample size.

Discussion: This study has established that dynamic time warping with root mean square analysis can be used to compare the entirety of time-series curves generated in gait analysis. The study also provided clinically relevant insights on the development of mature knee flexion patterns during typical development, and the role of a pediatric prosthetic knee.

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Frontiers in Rehabilitation Sciences

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