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Assessing Plantar Pressure Distribution in Children with Flatfoot Arch

Application of the Clarke Angle

Jolanta Pauk PhD, DSc1, Mikhail Ihnatouski PhD2, and Bijan Najafi PhD3
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  • 1 Mechanical Engineering Faculty, Automatics and Robotics Department, Bialystok University of Technology, Bialystok, Poland.
  • | 2 Research Center of Resource Saving, Belarusian Academy of Science, Minsk, Belarus.
  • | 3 Interdisciplinary Consortium on Advanced Motion Performance, Southern Arizona Limb Salvage Alliance, Department of Surgery, and Arizona Center on Aging, University of Arizona College of Medicine, Tucson, Arizona.
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Background

Flatfoot, or pes planus, is one of the most common foot posture problems in children that may lead to lower-extremity pain owing to a potential increase in plantar pressure. First, we compared plantar pressure distribution between children with and without flatfoot. Second, we examined the reliability and accuracy of a simple metric for characterization of foot posture: the Clarke angle. Third, we proposed a mathematical model to predict plantar pressure magnitude under the medial arch using body mass and the Clarke angle.

Methods

Sixty children with flatfoot and 33 aged-matched controls were recruited. Measurements included in-shoe plantar pressure distribution, ground reaction force, Clarke angle, and radiography assessment. The measured Clarke angle was compared with radiographic measurements, and its test-retest reliability was determined. A mathematical model was fitted to predict plantar pressure distribution under the medial arch using easy-to-measure variables (body mass and the Clarke angle).

Results

A high correlation was observed between the Clarke angle and radiography measurements (r > 0.9; P < 10−6). Excellent between- and within-day test-retest reliability for Clarke angle measurement (intraclass correlation coefficient, >0.9) was observed. Results also suggest that pressure magnitude under the medial arch can be estimated using the Clarke angle and body mass (R 2 = 0.95; error, <0.04 N/cm2 [2%]).

Conclusions

This study suggests that the Clarke angle is a practical, reliable, and sensitive metric for quantification of medial arch height in children and could be recommended for research and clinical applications. It can also be used to estimate plantar pressure under the medial arch, which, in turn, may assist in the timely intervention and prognosis of prospective problems associated with flatfoot posture.

Corresponding author: Jolanta Pauk, PhD, DSc, Mechanical Engineering Faculty, Automatics and Robotics Department, Bialystok University of Technology, Wiejska 45C, 15–351 Bialystok, Poland. (E-mail: j.pauk@pb.edu.pl)