Mobile Apps for Foot Measurement in Pedorthic Practice: Scoping Review

Ashad Kabir, Sheikh Sowmen Rahman, Mainul Islam, Sayed Ahmed, Craig Laird

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

Background:
As the use of smartphones increases globally across various fields of research and technology, significant contributions to the sectors related to health, specifically foot health, can be observed. Numerous smartphone apps are now being used for providing accurate information about various foot-related properties. Corresponding to this abundance of foot scanning and measuring apps available in app stores, there is a need for evaluating these apps, as limited information regarding their evidence-based quality is available.

Objective:
The aim of this review was to assess the measurement techniques and essential software quality characteristics of mobile foot measurement apps, and to determine their potential as commercial tools used by foot care health professionals, to assist in measuring feet for custom shoes, and for individuals to enhance their awareness of foot health and hygiene to ultimately prevent foot-related problems.

Methods:
An electronic search across Android and iOS app stores was performed between July and August 2020 to identify apps related to foot measurement and general foot health. The selected apps were rated by three independent raters, and all discrepancies were resolved by discussion among raters and other investigators. Based on previous work on app rating tools, a modified rating scale tool was devised to rate the selected apps. The internal consistency of the rating tool was tested with a group of three people who rated the selected apps over 2-3 weeks. This scale was then used to produce evaluation scores for the selected foot measurement apps and to assess the interrater reliability.

Results:
Evaluation inferences showed that all apps failed to meet even half of the measurement-specific criteria required for the proper manufacturing of custom-made footwear. Only 23% (6/26) of the apps reportedly used external scanners or advanced algorithms to reconstruct 3D models of a user’s foot that could possibly be used for ordering custom-made footwear (shoes, insoles/orthoses), and medical casts to fit irregular foot sizes and shapes. The apps had varying levels of performance and usability, although the overall measurement functionality was subpar with a mean of 1.93 out of 5. Apps linked to online shops and stores (shoe recommendation) were assessed to be more usable than other apps but lacked some features (eg, custom shoe sizes and shapes). Overall, the current apps available for foot measurement do not follow any specific guidelines for measurement purposes.

Conclusions:
Most commercial apps currently available in app stores are not viable for use as tools in assisting foot care health professionals or individuals to measure their feet for custom-made footwear. Current apps lack software quality characteristics and need significant improvements to facilitate proper measurement, enhance awareness of foot health, and induce motivation to prevent and cure foot-related problems. Guidelines similar to the essential criteria items introduced in this study need to be developed for future apps aimed at foot measurement for custom-made or individually fitted footwear and to create awareness of foot health.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere24202
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalJMIR mHealth and uHealth
Volume9
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 03 Apr 2021

Grant Number

  • RM102978

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