Differences, if any, in energy costs during walking of children with below-knee amputations (BKAs) and those of children without amputations have not been quantified. The purpose of this investigation was to compare measures of heart rate and oxygen consumption during walking (1) between children with BKAs and long residual limbs and children with BKAs and short residual limbs and (2) between children with BKAs and children without amputations.

Twenty-four children volunteered to participate in this investigation. Ten of the children, aged 6 to 18 years, had BKAs, and 14 children, aged 6 to 17 years, were without amputations.

The subjects walked for 2 minutes at each of the following four speeds: (1) chosen walking speed (CWS), (2) 20% below CWS, (3) 20% above CWS, and (4) fixed speed of 1.2 m/s. Heart rate and oxygen uptake were measured at each speed.

The results indicated (1) that there were no significant differences between children with long residual limbs and those with short residual limbs; (2) that oxygen consumption was 15% greater for children with BKAs compared with children without amputations; (3) that there were no differences in heart rates between children without amputations and those with BKAs or within children with BKAs; and (4) that children with BKAs did not choose speeds different from their peers without amputations, regardless of stump length.

The results indicated that children with BKAs had higher energy needs for walking than children who had no amputation. Whether the increased energy needs prevent or inhibit children with BKAs from having a lifestyle comparable to that of children without amputations is currently unknown and warrants further research. [Herbert LM, Engsberg JR, Tedford KG, Grimston SK. A comparison of oxygen consumption during walking between children with and without below-knee amputations.