Measurement of discrete vertical in-shoe stress with piezoelectric transducers

The purpose of this investigation was to design and validate a system suitable for non-invasive measurement of discrete in-shoe vertical plantar stress during dynamic activities. Eight transducers were constructed, with small piezoelectric ceramic squares (4.83 x 4.83 x 1.3 mm) used to generate a charge output proportional to vertical plantar stress. The mechanical properties of the transducers included 2.3% linearity and 3.7% hysteresis for stresses up to 2000 kPa and loading times up to 200 ms. System design efficacy was analysed by means of a multiple day, multiple trial data collection. With the transducers placed beneath plantar landmarks, the footstrike of one subject was recorded ten times on each of five days while running at 3.58 m/s on a treadmill. Within-day and between-day proportional error (PE) was used to estimate the error contained in the mean peak stress during foot contact. Within-day PE focused on trial to trial variability associated with the subject and equipment, and averaged 3.1% (range 2.5-4.0%) across transducer location. Between-day PE provided a cumulative estimate of subject, transducer placement, and random equipment variability, but excluded trial to trial variability. It ranged from 4.9 to 15.8%, with a mean of 9.9%. Peak stress, impulse, and sequence of loading data were examined to identify discrete foot function patterns and highlight the value of discrete stress analysis.

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