[Foot stress simulator for biomechanical in vitro studies of lower leg segments]

In this paper we describe a foot-loading simulator that permits in vitro studies on human lower leg and foot specimens. The specimens are fixed in a jig and loaded axially with the aid of a pneumatic cylinder. The resulting transfer of forces through the ankle joint complex and Chopart’s articulation (line) can be demonstrated on a pressure-sensitive film. Plantar pressure measurements obtained in patients or normal subjects can be used to ensure the comparability of in vivo and in vitro measurements. The supporting platform can be tilted in such a manner as to provide a range of foot positions up to 20 degrees in plantar- or dorsiflexion, eversion or inversion. The system is used for investigating the effects on the intra-articular pressures and plantar pressure patterns of physiological muscle activity and pathological conditions following fracture of the calcaneum or damage to the lateral ligament. By way of an example, the effects of muscle forces on plantar pressure distribution are presented.

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