BACKGROUND: Custom foot orthoses are currently recognized as the gold standard for treatment of foot and lower limb pathology. While foam and plaster casting methods are most widely used in clinical practice, technology has emerged, permitting the use of 3D scanning, computer aided design (CAD) and computer aided manufacturing (CAM) for fabrication of foot molds and custom foot orthotic components. Adoption of 3D printing, as a form of CAM, requires further investigation for use as a clinical tool.This study provides a preliminary description of a new method to manufacture foot orthoses using a novel 3D scanner and printer and compare gait kinematic outputs from shod and traditional plaster casted orthotics.
FINDINGS: One participant (male, 25 years) was included with no lower extremity injuries. Foot molds were created from both plaster casting and 3D scanning/printing methods. Custom foot orthoses were then fabricated from each mold. Lower body plug-in-gait with the Oxford Foot Model on the right foot was collected for both orthotic and control (shod) conditions. The medial longitudinal arch was measured using arch height index (AHI) where a decrease in AHI represented a drop in arch height. The lowest AHI was 21.2 mm in the running shoes, followed by 21.4 mm wearing the orthoses made using 3D scanning and printing, with the highest AHI of 22.0 mm while the participant wore the plaster casted orthoses.
CONCLUSION: This preliminary study demonstrated a small increase in AHI with the 3D printing orthotic compared to the shod condition. A larger sample size may demonstrate significant patterns for the tested conditions.
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