Preliminary investigation of foot pressure distribution variation in men and women adults while standing

Background: Women and men are anatomically and physiologically different in a number of ways. They differ in both shape and size. These differences could potentially mean foot pressure distribution variation in men and women. The purpose of this study was to analyze standing foot pressure image to obtain the foot pressure distribution parameter – power ratio variation between men and women using image processing in frequency domain.

Methods: We examined 28 healthy adult subjects (14 men and 14 women) aged between 20 and 45 years was recruited for our study. Foot pressure distribution patterns while standing are obtained by using a PedoPowerGraph plantar pressure measurement system for foot image formation, a digital camera for image capturing, a TV tuner PC-add on card, a WinDvr software for still capture and Matlab software with dedicated image processing algorithms have been developed. Various PedoPowerGraphic parameters such as percentage medial impulse (PMI), fore foot to hind foot pressure distribution ratio (F/H), big toe to fore foot pressure distribution ratio (B/F) and power ratio (PR) were evaluated.

Results: In men, contact area was significantly larger in all regions of the foot compared with women. There were significant differences in plantar pressure distribution but there was no significant difference in F/H and B/F ratio. Mean PR value was significantly greater in men than women under the hind foot and fore foot. PMI value was greater in women than men. As compared to men, women have maximum PR variations in the mid foot. Hence there is significant difference at level p<0.05 in medial mid foot and mid foot PR of women as compared to men.

Conclusion: There was variation in plantar pressure distribution because the contact area of the men foot was larger than that of women foot. Hence knowledge of pressure distributions variation of both feet can provide suitable guidelines to biomedical engineers and doctor for designing orthotic devices for reliving the area of excessively high pressure.

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