Prosthetic feet: State-of-the-art review and the importance of mimicking human ankle-foot biomechanics

Rino Versluys, Pieter Beyl, Michael Van Damme, Anja Desomer, Ronald Van Ham, Dirk Lefeber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

147 Citations (Scopus)


Numerous prosthetic feet are currently on the market for individuals with a transtibial amputation, each device aimed at raising the 3C-level (control, comfort and cosmetics) with slightly different characteristics. In general, prosthetic feet can be classified into three categories. These are, following the time line: conventional feet (CF), energy-storing-and-returning (ESR) feet and the recent so-called 'bionic' feet. Researchers have shown enhanced performance properties of ESR feet compared with early CF. However, even with the advanced technology, none of the ESR feet is capable of significantly reducing energy cost of walking or enhancing prosthetic gait (Nielsen et al. J Prosthet Orthotics 1989;1:24-31; Waters et al. J Bone Joint Surg Am 1976;58:42-46; Torburn et al. J Rehabil Res Dev 1990;27:369-384). From the 1990s, gradually more attention has been paid to the incorporation of active elements in prosthetic feet as the passive devices are not capable of providing the individual with sufficient ankle power during gait. Most part of the 'bionic' devices are still on the research level nowadays but one can expect that they will become available on the market soon. In this article, the evolution of prosthetic feet over the last two decades is reflected. The importance of mimicking human ankle-foot biomechanics with prosthetic feet is briefly discussed. Prior work in both objective and subjective evaluation of prosthetic gait is reported.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-75
Number of pages11
JournalDisability and Rehabilitation: Assistive Technology
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2009


  • amputee
  • ankle
  • biomechanics
  • energy
  • transtibial


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