- Walking heel to toe works for a human leg, but not for a mechanical one.
- A more efficient method mimics the way a woman walks in heels.
Women in stilettos and ostriches have unwittingly contributed to scientific advancement by showing researchers how to design a prosthetic leg better adapted for walking, said a study published Wednesday.
The best prosthesis for above-knee amputees, and for humanoid robots, would work nothing like the human leg, scientists found, -- but like that of an ostrich or the synthetic limbs used by South African amputee sprinter Oscar Pistorius.
"It now appears that making prosthetic feet -- for walking at least -- copying human feet too closely can be a mistake," study author Jim Usherwood of the Royal Veterinary College in London told AFP.
"If you want to make a good prosthetic foot but don't care what it looks like, you should put the motor -- in this case the ankle -- as far up the leg as possible."
Higher up, the ankle "can provide the power without making the feet heavy and hard to swing backwards and forwards," he added.