Date of Award


Degree Type



Chemical and Biomedical Engineering

First Advisor

Smith, William

Subject Headings

Artificial knee -- Research, Gait in humans -- Simulation methods, Biomedical engineering, Biomedical Engineering, biomedical research, biomechanics, Mauch knee, gait simulation, prosthetic knee, transformal amputee, robotic simulation, prosthetic knee characterization, optimal gait, musculoskeletal model, prosthetic knee test


Patients with prosthetic legs routinely suffer from abnormal gait patterns which can cause health issues and eventually lower the quality of their lives. Despite the half-century advance in the technology of prosthetic knees, from the purely mechanical to microprocessor controlled systems, patient testing suggests that very little progress has been made in the quality of the kinetics and kinematics of amputee gait. Moreover, the cost of microprocessor controlled prosthetic knees may be 10 times more than the purely mechanical knees. While prosthetic knees have become more complex and expensive, it is not proven that the prosthetic knee is a central factor limiting amputee patient gait. The goal of this project is to determine the degree to which the Mauch S-N-S prosthetic knee limits the ability of a subject to achieve a close to normal gait pattern. In this research, we developed dynamic models of the Mauch S-N-S prosthetic knee based on gait-like motion tests of a Mauch knee cylinder and used the dynamic models in computational simulations to determine the best achievable gait, on the basis of obtaining near-to-normal gait kinematics and kinetics. Idealized assumptions were made for patient performance capability and characteristics of the other prosthetic leg components, to obtain the desired focus on knee capabilities and limitations. The results indicate that even with this relatively old technology prosthetic knee, subjects have the potential to walk much more normally than the patient-test data indicates. An extension of the study showed the significant interaction of the prosthetic knee and ankle with respect to achieving optimal gait. The methodology of this study can be applied to evaluation other knees, prosthetic components and prosthetic systems combining these components