An investigation into the deformable characteristics of the human foot using fluoroscopic imaging
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BACKGROUND: To determine the behaviour of the human foot during in vivo loading and unloading. METHODS: Fluoroscopic imaging was used to investigate the movement of the bones and 13 skin markers during loading and unloading for the medial aspect of the left foot. A foot-pressure measuring system was compared with a force plate used to gather kinetic information, simultaneously. Four male and two female subjects performed three tasks that mimicked jumping, walking, and sprinting. Two-dimensional vector displacements were calculated between bone landmarks over time. Foot rigidity was assessed by a 5 mm length variability threshold determined as the difference between the third and first quartiles of the data set. FINDINGS: The displacement between the first metatarso-phalangeal joint and distal aspect of the calcaneous varied more than the 5 mm threshold. A new foot model was developed which included three rigid segments joined together by hinge joints located at the first metatarso-phalangeal joint and between the anterior talus and navicular. The comparison between skin mounted markers and bone landmarks yielded a range of correlation slopes close to 1.00 for both the x- and y-directions. Foot pressure and force plate comparisons were promising (%RMS(error) approximately 10%) for the vertical ground reaction forces but not so for the centres of pressure (%RMS(error) up to 50%). INTERPRETATION: A multi-segment foot model is required to better represent the behaviour of a human foot. No consistent skin marker movement was determined. Better pressure distribution devices need to be developed to determine more accurate foot kinetics. Precise foot kinematics are required in order that accurate ankle moments and reaction forces be determined for the purpose of assessing foot and ankle function.
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