Peer Review #2 of "Transtibial limb loss does not increase metabolic cost in three-dimensional computer simulations of human walking (v0.1)"
Loss of a lower limb below the knee, i.e. transtibial limb loss, and subsequently walking with a prosthesis, is generally thought to increase the metabolic cost of walking vs. ablebodied controls. However, high-functioning individuals with limb loss such as military service members often walk with the same metabolic cost as controls. Here we used a 3-D computer model and optimal control simulation approach to test the hypothesis that transtibial limb loss in and of itself causes an increase in
... etabolic cost of walking. We first generated N = 36 simulations of walking at 1.45 m/s using a "pre-limb loss" model, with two intact biological legs, that minimized deviations from able-bodied experimental walking mechanics with minimum muscular effort. We then repeated these simulations using a "post-limb loss" model, with the right leg's ankle muscles and joints replaced with a simple model of a passive transtibial prosthesis. No other changes were made to the post-limb loss model's remaining muscles or musculoskeletal parameters compared to the pre-limb loss case. Post-limb loss, the gait deviations on average increased by only 0.17 standard deviations from the experimental means, and metabolic cost did not increase (3.58±0.10 J/m/kg pre-limb loss vs. 3.59±0.12 J/m/kg post-limb loss, p = 0.65). The results suggest that transtibial limb loss does not directly lead to an increase in metabolic cost, even when deviations from able-bodied gait mechanics are minimized. High metabolic costs observed in individuals with transtibial limb loss may be due to secondary changes in strength or general fitness after limb loss, modifiable prosthesis issues, or to prioritization of factors that affect locomotor control other than gait deviations and muscular effort.