Reactive stepping strategies following lateral surface translations in individuals with a unilateral lower limb amputation
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Following a loss of balance, individuals may utilize specific stepping strategies to prevent themselves from falling. The stepping strategies that are used by lower limb amputees, which likely consist of unique properties because of the limitations when using a prosthesis, have not been thoroughly identified. Therefore, this study examined the lateral reactive stepping strategies used eight amputees and ten non-amputees. They experienced four support-surface translations in both the leftward and rightward direction. Results indicated that amputees use unique reactive stepping strategies, particularly with the unloaded leg and when the direction of the perturbation causes unloading of the prosthesis. Amputee stepping strategies were characterized by fewer steps, lower quality of balance recovery, and wider variety compared to non-amputees. This study's findings highlight the reliance on the hip strategy in amputee reactive balance, and future studies should explore how amputees use their hip and trunk while executing reactive stepping strategies.