Quantitative assessment of the biomechanical properties of limb soft tissues has become more important during the last decade because of the introduction of computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing (CAD/CAM) and finite element analysis to the prosthetic socket design. Because of the lack of a clinically easy-to-use apparatus, the site and posture dependences of the material properties of lower limb soft tissues have not been fully reported in the literature. In this study, an ultrasound indentation system with a pen-size hand-held probe developed earlier by the authors was used to obtain the indentation responses of lower limb soft tissues. Indentation tests were conducted on normal young subjects with four females and four males at four sites with three body postures. A linear elastic indentation solution was used to extract the effective Young's modulus from the indentation responses. The determined modulus ranged from 10.4 to 89.2 kPa for the soft tissues tested. These results were in a similar range as those reported in the literature. The thickness of the lower limb soft tissues varied slightly with body posture changes. The Young's modulus determined was demonstrated to be significantly dependent on site, posture, subject and gender. The overall mean modulus of male subjects was 40% larger than that of female subjects. No significant correlation was established between the effective Young's modulus and the thickness of entire soft tissue layers.
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