Indexed on: 24 May '11Published on: 24 May '11Published in: Journal of biomechanical engineering
The symptomatic flatfoot deformity (pes planus with peri-talar subluxation) can be a debilitating condition. Cadaveric flatfoot models have been employed to study the etiology of the deformity, as well as invasive and noninvasive surgical treatment strategies, by evaluating bone positions. Prior cadaveric flatfoot simulators, however, have not leveraged industrial robotic technologies, which provide several advantages as compared with the previously developed custom fabricated devices. Utilizing a robotic device allows the researcher to experimentally evaluate the flatfoot model at many static instants in the gait cycle, compared with most studies, which model only one to a maximum of three instances. Furthermore, the cadaveric tibia can be statically positioned with more degrees of freedom and with a greater accuracy, and then a custom device typically allows. We created a six degree of freedom robotic cadaveric simulator and used it with a flatfoot model to quantify static bone positions at ten discrete instants over the stance phase of gait. In vivo tibial gait kinematics and ground reaction forces were averaged from ten flatfoot subjects. A fresh frozen cadaveric lower limb was dissected and mounted in the robotic gait simulator (RGS). Biomechanically realistic extrinsic tendon forces, tibial kinematics, and vertical ground reaction forces were applied to the limb. In vitro bone angular position of the tibia, calcaneus, talus, navicular, medial cuneiform, and first metatarsal were recorded between 0% and 90% of stance phase at discrete 10% increments using a retroreflective six-camera motion analysis system. The foot was conditioned flat through ligament attenuation and axial cyclic loading. Post-flat testing was repeated to study the pes planus deformity. Comparison was then made between the pre-flat and post-flat conditions. The RGS was able to recreate ten gait positions of the in vivo pes planus subjects in static increments. The in vitro vertical ground reaction force was within ± 1 standard deviation (SD) of the in vivo data. The in vitro sagittal, coronal, and transverse plane tibial kinematics were almost entirely within ± 1 SD of the in vivo data. The model showed changes consistent with the flexible flatfoot pathology including the collapse of the medial arch and abduction of the forefoot, despite unexpected hindfoot inversion. Unlike previous static flatfoot models that use simplified tibial degrees of freedom to characterize only the midpoint of the stance phase or at most three gait positions, our simulator represented the stance phase of gait with ten discrete positions and with six tibial degrees of freedom. This system has the potential to replicate foot function to permit both noninvasive and surgical treatment evaluations throughout the stance phase of gait, perhaps eliciting unknown advantages or disadvantages of these treatments at other points in the gait cycle.