Measurement of multi-segment foot joint angles during gait using a wearable system

Hossein Rouhani, Julien Favre, Xavier Crevoisier, Kamiar Aminian
Journal of Biomechanical Engineering 2012, 134 (6): 061006
Usually the measurement of multi-segment foot and ankle complex kinematics is done with stationary motion capture devices which are limited to use in a gait laboratory. This study aimed to propose and validate a wearable system to measure the foot and ankle complex joint angles during gait in daily conditions, and then to investigate its suitability for clinical evaluations. The foot and ankle complex consisted of four segments (shank, hindfoot, forefoot, and toes), with an inertial measurement unit (3D gyroscopes and 3D accelerometers) attached to each segment. The angles between the four segments were calculated in the sagittal, coronal, and transverse planes using a new algorithm combining strap-down integration and detection of low-acceleration instants. To validate the joint angles measured by the wearable system, three subjects walked on a treadmill for five minutes at three different speeds. A camera-based stationary system that used a cluster of markers on each segment was used as a reference. To test the suitability of the system for clinical evaluation, the joint angle ranges were compared between a group of 10 healthy subjects and a group of 12 patients with ankle osteoarthritis, during two 50-m walking trials where the wearable system was attached to each subject. On average, over all joints and walking speeds, the RMS differences and correlation coefficients between the angular curves obtained using the wearable system and the stationary system were 1 deg and 0.93, respectively. Moreover, this system was able to detect significant alteration of foot and ankle function between the group of patients with ankle osteoarthritis and the group of healthy subjects. In conclusion, this wearable system was accurate and suitable for clinical evaluation when used to measure the multi-segment foot and ankle complex kinematics during long-distance walks in daily life conditions.

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