Date of Award

Spring 2010

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Biomedical Engineering

First Advisor

Harris, Gerald F.

Second Advisor

Smith, Peter

Third Advisor

Wang, Mei


Complete biomechanical analysis helps evaluate the motion during various gait patterns for the upper and lower extremities. Extensive studies have been performed to evaluate unassisted gait patterns, but very little has been accomplished for studying assisted motion. Children with pathologies such as osteogenesis imperfecta, spinal cord injury, and cerebral palsy use assistive devices such as anterior and posterior walkers, canes, Lofstrand and axillary crutches for ambulation purposes.

Statistics show that there are currently about 566,000 crutch users in the United States. The long-term crutch users in this population can suffer various upper limb pathologies associated with extensive upper extremity (UE) loading. Better knowledge of UE dynamics in crutch users may ultimately help to prevent injuries due to excessive loading or inappropriate gait patterns. These evaluations may ultimately assist in pre-treatment planning and post-treatment rehabilitation.

Currently, there is no validated system for the assessment of UE joint kinetics during Lofstrand crutch-assisted gait in children. To address these needs two aims will be accomplished:

1. A novel crutch system will be designed and validated to accurately evaluate the UE joint kinetics in children and young adults.

2. A kinetic model will be demonstrated for the newly developed crutch system during Lofstrand crutch-assisted gait in children with spinal cord injury, cerebral palsy and osteogenesis imperfecta.