Stiffness and hysteresis properties of some prosthetic feet

H.W.L. van Jaarsveld, H.J. Grootenboer, J. de Vries, Hubertus F.J.M. Koopman

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A prosthetic foot is an important element of a prosthesis, although it is not always fully recognized that the properties of the foot, along with the prosthetic knee joint and the socket, are in part responsible for the stability and metabolic energy cost during walking. The stiffness and the hysteresis, which are the topics of this paper, are not properly prescribed, but could be adapted to improve the prosthetic walking performance. The shape is strongly related to the cosmetic appearance and so can not be altered to effect these improvements. Because detailed comparable data on foot stiffness and hysteresis, which are necessary to quantify the differences between different types of feet, are absent in literature, these properties were measured by the authors in a laboratory setup for nine different prosthetic feet, bare and with two different shoes. One test cycle consisted of measurements of load deformation curves in 66 positions, representing the range from heel strike to toe-off. The hysteresis is defined by the energy loss as a part of the total deformation energy. Without shoes significant differences in hysteresis between the feet exist, while with sport shoes the differences in hysteresis between the feet vanish for the most part. Applying a leather shoe leads to an increase of hysteresis loss for all tested feet. The stiffness turned out to be non-constant, so mean stiffness is used. Because very little is known about the optimal values of stiffness and hysteresis, and substantial differences in stiffness between different feet and shoes exist, further investigation into the importance of stiffness and hysteresis to the walking quality of a foot is necessary. Footwear counts too for this quality because it modifies the variation in stiffness among the feet.
Original languageUndefined
Pages (from-to)117-124
JournalProsthetics and orthotics international
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1990


  • IR-98781

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