Considering passive mechanical properties and patient user motor performance in lower limb prosthesis design optimization to enhance rehabilitation outcomes

Matthew J. Major, Nicholas P. Fey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Background: Selection of prosthesis mechanical characteristics to restore function of persons with lower limb loss can be framed as an optimization problem to satisfy a given performance objective. However, the choice of a particular objective is critical, and considering only device and generalizable outcomes across users without accounting for inherent motor performance likely restricts a given patient from fully realizing the benefits of a prosthetic intervention. Objectives: This review presents methods for optimizing passive below-knee prosthesis designs to maximize rehabilitation outcomes and how considerations on patient motor performance may enhance these outcomes. Major Findings: Available literature supports that considering patient-specific variables pertaining to motor performance permits a multidimensional landscape relating device characteristics and user function, which may yield more accurate predictions of rehabilitation outcomes for individual patients. Moreover, the addition of targeted physical therapeutic interventions that encourage user self-organization may further improve these outcomes. We note the potential of existing paradigms to address these additional dimensions, and we encourage investigators to consider the many different performance objectives available for prosthesis optimization. Conclusions: By considering user motor performance in combination with prosthesis mechanical characteristics, a staged optimization approach can be formulated which acknowledges that device modifications may only improve outcomes to a certain extent and user self-organization is a critical component to complete rehabilitation. An iterative process that can be integrated within existing rehabilitative practices accounts for changes in patient status through combined targeted prosthetic solutions and physical therapeutic techniques, and embodies the concept of personalized intervention for patients with lower limb loss.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)202-216
Number of pages15
JournalPhysical Therapy Reviews
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Jul 4 2017


  • Biomechanics
  • Design
  • Locomotion
  • Motor control
  • Optimization
  • Prosthesis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Rehabilitation


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