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Foot Ankle Int. 2002 Aug;23(8):727-37.

Biomechanical evaluation of the efficacy of external stabilizers in the conservative treatment of acquired flatfoot deformity.

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Drexel University, Department of Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.


This study quantified and compared the efficacy of in-shoe orthoses and ankle braces in stabilizing the hindfoot and medial longitudinal arch in a cadaveric model of acquired flexible flatfoot deformity. This was addressed by combining measurement of hindfoot and arch kinematics with plantar pressure distribution, produced in response to axial loads simulating quiet standing. Experiments were conducted on six fresh-frozen cadaveric lower limbs. Three conditions were tested: intact-unbraced; flatfoot-unbraced; and flatfoot-braced. Flatfoot deformity was created by sectioning the main support structures of the medial longitudinal arch. Six different braces were tested including two in-shoe orthoses, three ankle braces and one molded ankle-foot orthosis. Our model of flexible flatfoot deformity caused the calcaneus to evert, the talus to plantarflex and the height of the talus and medial cuneiform to decrease. Flexible flatfoot deformity caused a pattern of medial shift in plantar pressure distribution, but minimal change in the location of the center of pressure. Furthermore, in-shoe orthoses stabilized both the hindfoot and the medial longitudinal arch, while ankle braces did not. Semi-rigid foot and ankle orthoses acted to stabilize the medial longitudinal arch. Based on these results, it was concluded that treatment of flatfoot deformity should at least include use of in-shoe orthoses to partially restore the arch and stabilize the hindfoot.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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