Background: Individuals with lower limb loss are at an increased risk for falls, likely due to impaired balance control. Standing balance is typically explained by double- or single-inverted pendulum models of the hip and/or ankle, neglecting the knee joint. However, recent work suggests knee joint motion contributes toward stabilizing center-of-mass kinematics during standing balance. Research Question: To what extent do hip, knee, and ankle joint motions contribute to postural sway in standing among individuals with lower limb loss? Methods: Forty-two individuals (25 m/17f) with unilateral lower limb loss (30 transtibial, 12 transfemoral) stood quietly with eyes open and eyes closed, for 30 s each, while wearing accelerometers on the pelvis, thigh, shank, and foot. Triaxial inertial measurement units were transformed to inertial anterior-posterior components and sway parameters were computed: ellipse area, root-mean-square, and jerk. A state-space model with a Kalman filter calculated hip, knee, and ankle joint flexion-extension angles and ranges of motion. Multiple linear regression predicted postural sway parameters from intact limb joint ranges of motion, with BMI as a covariate (p < 0.05). Results: With eyes open, intact limb hip flexion predicted larger sway ellipse area, whereas hip flexion and knee extension predicted larger sway root-mean-square, and hip flexion, knee extension, and ankle plantarflexion predicted larger sway jerk. With eyes closed, intact limb hip flexion remained the predictor of sway ellipse area; no other joint motions influenced sway parameters in this condition. Significance: Hip, knee, and ankle motions influence postural sway during standing balance among individuals with lower limb loss. Specifically, increasing intact-side hip flexion, knee extension, and ankle plantarflexion motion increased postural sway. With vision removed, a re-weighting of lower limb joint sensory mechanisms may control postural sway, such that increasing sway may be regulated by proximal coordination strategies and vestibular responses, with implications for fall risk.
- Postural control