Misalignment of an articulated ankle–foot orthosis joint axis with the anatomic joint axis may lead to discomfort, alterations in gait, and tissue damage. Theoretical, two-dimensional models describe the consequences of misalignments, but cannot capture the three-dimensional behavior of ankle–foot orthosis use.
The purpose of this project was to develop a model to describe the effects of ankle–foot orthosis ankle joint misalignment in three dimensions.
Three-dimensional scans of a leg and ankle–foot orthosis were incorporated into a link segment model where the ankle–foot orthosis joint axis could be misaligned with the anatomic ankle joint axis. The leg/ankle–foot orthosis interface was modeled as a network of nodes connected by springs to estimate interface pressure. Motion between the leg and ankle–foot orthosis was calculated as the ankle joint moved through a gait cycle.
While the three-dimensional model corroborated predictions of the previously published two-dimensional model that misalignments in the anterior -posterior direction would result in greater relative motion compared to misalignments in the proximal -distal direction, it provided greater insight showing that misalignments have asymmetrical effects.
The three-dimensional model has been incorporated into a freely available computer program to assist others in understanding the consequences of joint misalignments.
Models and simulations can be used to gain insight into functioning of systems of interest. We have developed a three-dimensional model to assess the effect of ankle joint axis misalignments in ankle–foot orthoses. The model has been incorporated into a freely available computer program to assist understanding of trainees and others interested in orthotics.