Open Access Research

Characterizing multisegment foot kinematics during gait in diabetic foot patients

Zimi Sawacha1, Giuseppe Cristoferi2, Gabriella Guarneri2, Stefano Corazza1, Giulia Donà1, Paolo Denti1, Andrea Facchinetti1, Angelo Avogaro2 and Claudio Cobelli1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Information Engineering, University of Padova, Italy

2 Department of Clinical Medicine & Metabolic Disease, University Polyclinic, Padova, Italy

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Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation 2009, 6:37  doi:10.1186/1743-0003-6-37

Published: 23 October 2009

Abstract

Background

The prevalence of diabetes mellitus has reached epidemic proportions, this condition may result in multiple and chronic invalidating long term complications. Among these, the diabetic foot, is determined by the simultaneous presence of both peripheral neuropathy and vasculopathy that alter the biomechanics of the foot with the formation of callosity and ulcerations. To diagnose and treat the diabetic foot is crucial to understand the foot complex kinematics. Most of gait analysis protocols represent the entire foot as a rigid body connected to the shank. Nevertheless the existing multisegment models cannot completely decipher the impairments associated with the diabetic foot.

Methods

A four segment foot and ankle model for assessing the kinematics of the diabetic foot was developed. Ten normal subjects and 10 diabetics gait patterns were collected and major sources of variability were tested. Repeatability analysis was performed both on a normal and on a diabetic subject. Direct skin marker placement was chosen in correspondence of 13 anatomical landmarks and an optoelectronic system was used to collect the data.

Results

Joint rotation normative bands (mean plus/minus one standard deviation) were generated using the data of the control group. Three representative strides per subject were selected. The repeatability analysis on normal and pathological subjects results have been compared with literature and found comparable. Normal and pathological gait have been compared and showed major statistically significant differences in the forefoot and midfoot dorsi-plantarflexion.

Conclusion

Even though various biomechanical models have been developed so far to study the properties and behaviour of the foot, the present study focuses on developing a methodology for the functional assessment of the foot-ankle complex and for the definition of a functional model of the diabetic neuropathic foot. It is, of course, important to evaluate the major sources of variation (true variation in the subject's gait and artefacts from the measurement procedure). The repeatability of the protocol was therefore examined, and results showed the suitability of this method both on normal and pathological subjects. Comparison between normal and pathological kinematics analysis confirmed the validity of a similar approach in order to assess neuropathics biomechanics impairment.