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Past Research Projects


Motor adaptation to prosthetic cycling in people with transtibial amputation

Cycling is a rhythmic task (like walking) yet it is more concerned with propulsion than balance and the environment can be better controlled by the researcher. We used cycling was used a model to study motor adaptation. This project examined how someone with a transtibial amputation used their remaining physiological systems to control the bicycle pedal through the interface of a prosthetic socket. What we discovered was the neuromuscular system used the prosthesis as you would a screwdriver. In other words, the prosthesis is just a tool, and the differences in control and coordination were related to the amputated side control the prosthetic socket, similar to how you have to control the handle of the screwdriver before you control the tip. This work is a collaboration with Drs. Robert Gregor and Boris Prilutsky at Georgia Tech.
The work was a portion of Dr Childers's dissertation, presented at the 2012 meeting of the American Academy of Orthotists and Prosthetists, and is currently in review for publication.

Does a Parathlete with transtibial amputation have an advantage in the 4km individual pursuit?

The individual pursuit is a cycling time trial performed on a velodrome during the Paralymics as well as the US national and World track championships. A transtibial amputation removes the foot and ankle joint and this contributes to a disadvantage for these individuals for generate power in cycling. However, the artificial limb has less frontal area (therefore less aerodynamic drag) than the original limb. Aerodynamic drag constitutes ~96% of the power requirements for the individual pursuit. Therefore it is possible the aerodynamic gains associated with the prosthetic leg could outweigh the power losses associated with the amputation, i.e. these Parathletes may have an advantage for this cycling discipline. This project examined the interplay between aerodynamic gains and power output losses with computer simulations and found people with a uni-lateral transtibial amputation do not have a net advantage in the Pursuit. This work is a collaboration with Tim Gallagher, an aerodynamicist at Georgia Tech, Dr. Chad Duncan, and Dr. Douglas Taylor, director of the Southeast Community Research Center.

The work was the basis for Dr. Childers residency research project for his certification in prosthetics, presented at the 2013 meeting of the American Academy of Orthotists and Prosthetists, and is currently in review for publication.

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Contact Information

Lee Childers PhD CP
John L. Buskey Health Sciences Building
RM 301C (office)
RM 310 (lab)
(334)  229-8808

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