Background: Foot problems and lower-limb diseases (e.g., foot ulcers, osteoarthritis, etc.), are presented with a ground reaction force (GRF) that may deviate substantially from the normal. Thus, GRF manipulation is a key parameter when treating symptoms of these diseases. In the current study, we examined the impact of footwear-generated center of pressure (COP) manipulations on the GRF components, and the ability to predict this impact using statistical models.
Methods: A foot-worn biomechanical device which allows manual manipulation of the COP location was utilized. Twelve healthy young men underwent gait analysis with the device set to convey seven COP conditions: (1) a neutral condition, (2) lateral and (3) medial offset along the medio-lateral foot axis, (4) anterior and (5) posterior offset along the antero-posterior foot axis, and (6) a dorsi-flexion and (7) plantar-flexion condition. Changes in the magnitude and the early stance-phase impulse of the GRF components across COP conditions were observed. Linear models were used to describe relationships between COP conditions and GRF magnitude and impulse.
Results: With respect to ANOVA, the vertical and antero-posterior components of the GRF were significantly influenced by the COP configuration throughout the different stages of the stance-phase, whereas the medio-lateral components were not. The models of vertical, antero-posterior and medio-lateral GRF components were statistically significant.
Significance: The study results are valuable for the development of a method and means for efficient treatment of foot and lower-limb pathologies. The ability to predict and control the GRF components along three orthogonal axes, for a given COP location, provides a strong tool for efficient treatment of foot and lower-limb diseases and may also have relevant implications in sports shoe design. This study is a preliminary investigation for our ultimate goal to develop an effective treatment method by developing an autonomous GRF manipulations device based on closed-loop feedback.