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J Rehabil Res Dev. 2005 May-Jun;42(3):315-25.

A shear and plantar pressure sensor based on fiber-optic bend loss.

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Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA.


Lower-limb complications associated with diabetes include the development of plantar ulcers that can lead to infection and subsequent amputation. While we know from force-plate analyses that medial/lateral and anterior/posterior shear components of ground-reaction forces exist, little is known about the actual distribution of these stresses during daily activities or about the role that shear stresses play in causing plantar ulceration. Furthermore, one critical reason why these data have not been obtained previously is the lack of a validated, widely used, commercially available shear sensor, partly because of the various technical issues associated with measuring shear. In this study, we present a novel means of transducing plantar pressure and shear stress with a fiber-optic sensor. The pressure/shear sensor consists of an array of optical fibers lying in perpendicular rows and columns separated by elastomeric pads. We constructed a map of normal and shear stresses based on observed macrobending through the intensity attenuation from the physical deformation of two adjacent perpendicular fibers. Initial results show that this sensor exhibits low noise and responds to applied normal and shear loads with good repeatability.

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