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      Biomechanical analysis of the three-dimensional foot structure during gait: a basic tool for clinical applications.

      Journal of biomechanical engineering

      physiology, Biomechanical Phenomena, Fluoroscopy, methods, Foot, anatomy & histology, radiography, Gait, Humans, Image Enhancement, Models, Biological, Stress, Mechanical, Weight-Bearing

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          A novel three-dimensional numerical model of the foot, incorporating, for the first time in the literature, realistic geometric and material properties of both skeletal and soft tissue components of the foot, was developed for biomechanical analysis of its structural behavior during gait. A system of experimental methods, integrating the optical Contact Pressure Display (CPD) method for plantar pressure measurements and a Digital Radiographic Fluoroscopy (DRF) instrument for acquisition of skeletal motion during gait, was also developed in this study and subsequently used to build the foot model and validate its predictions. Using a Finite Element solver, the stress distribution within the foot structure was obtained and regions of elevated stresses for six subphases of the stance (initial-contact, heel-strike, midstance, forefoot-contact, push-off, and toe-off) were located. For each of these subphases, the model was adapted according to the corresponding fluoroscopic data, skeletal dynamics, and active muscle force loading. Validation of the stress state was achieved by comparing model predictions of contact stress distribution with respective CPD measurements. The presently developed measurement and numerical analysis tools open new approaches for clinical applications, from simulation of the development mechanisms of common foot disorders to pre- and post-interventional evaluation of their treatment.

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