Ambulatory assessment of ankle and foot dynamics

H Martin Schepers, H F J M Koopman, Peter H Veltink
IEEE Transactions on Bio-medical Engineering 2007, 54 (5): 895-902
Ground reaction force (GRF) measurement is important in the analysis of human body movements. The main drawback of the existing measurement systems is the restriction to a laboratory environment. This paper proposes an ambulatory system for assessing the dynamics of ankle and foot, which integrates the measurement of the GRF with the measurement of human body movement. The GRF and the center of pressure (CoP) are measured using two six-degrees-of-freedom force sensors mounted beneath the shoe. The movement of foot and lower leg is measured using three miniature inertial sensors, two rigidly attached to the shoe and one on the lower leg. The proposed system is validated using a force plate and an optical position measurement system as a reference. The results show good correspondence between both measurement systems, except for the ankle power estimation. The root mean square (RMS) difference of the magnitude of the GRF over 10 evaluated trials was (0.012 +/- 0.001) N/N (mean +/- standard deviation), being (1.1 +/- 0.1)% of the maximal GRF magnitude. It should be noted that the forces, moments, and powers are normalized with respect to body weight. The CoP estimation using both methods shows good correspondence, as indicated by the RMS difference of (5.1 +/- 0.7) mm, corresponding to (1.7 +/- 0.3)% of the length of the shoe. The RMS difference between the magnitudes of the heel position estimates was calculated as (18 +/- 6) mm, being (1.4 +/- 0.5)% of the maximal magnitude. The ankle moment RMS difference was (0.004 +/- 0.001) Nm/N, being (2.3 +/- 0.5)% of the maximal magnitude. Finally, the RMS difference of the estimated power at the ankle was (0.02 +/- 0.005) W/N, being (14 +/- 5)% of the maximal power. This power difference is caused by an inaccurate estimation of the angular velocities using the optical reference measurement system, which is due to considering the foot as a single segment. The ambulatory system considers separate heel and forefoot segments, thus allowing an additional foot moment and power to be estimated. Based on the results of this research, it is concluded that the combination of the instrumented shoe and inertial sensing is a promising tool for the assessment of the dynamics of foot and ankle in an ambulatory setting.

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