Fatigue test of low-cost flexible-shank monolimb trans-tibial prosthesis
Monolimb refers to a kind of trans-tibial prostheses with the socket and shank moulded into one piece of thermoplastic material. If properly designed, the shank of a monolimb can deflect which may compensate for the lost ankle plantarflexion and dorsiflexion to some extent. However, provision of shank flexibility is usually accompanied by reduced structural strength of the entire prosthesis. In the recent work using finite element analysis and the Taguchi method, the dimensions of the shank for the monolimb were derived which aimed at giving high shank flexibility and reasonable strength to resist static load. Yet, fatigue testing has not been performed. Fatigue failure may happen when a relatively low level of load is applied repeatedly. This study aimed to document the fatigue life of two flexible-shank monolimbs, by applying cyclic force of 800 N at the forefoot region for 500,000 cycles. Results showed that the design of the foot bolt adaptor played an important role in the structural integrity of the monolimb. One monolimb completed the fatigue test of 500,000 cycles without visual material yield, but with 3.8 degrees change in dorsiflexion angle when the load was removed.