The biomechanical effects of 3D printed orthotics in flat footed individuals with unilateral heel pain

Julie Nguyen, Malia Ho , Luke Heales , Robert Stanton , Veni Pui Wah Kong , Crystal Kean

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Background: Foot orthoses (FOs) are used to manage foot pathologies such as plantar fasciopathy. 3D printed custom-made FOs are increasingly being manufactured. Although these 3D-printed FOs look like traditionally
heat-moulded FOs, there are few studies comparing FOs made using these two different manufacturing processes.

Research question: How effective are 3D-printed FOs (3D-Print) compared to traditionally-made (Traditional) or no FOs (Control), in changing biomechanical parameters of flat-footed individuals with unilateral plantar fasciopathy?Methods: Thirteen participants with unilateral plantar fasciopathy walked with shoes under three conditions: Control, 3D-print, and Traditional. 2 × 3 repeated measures analysis of variance (ANOVAs) with Bonferroni post-hoc tests were used to compare discrete kinematic and kinetic variables between limbs and conditions. Waveform analyses were also conducted using statistical parametric mapping (SPM).

Results: There was a significant condition main effect for arch height drop (p = 0.01; ηp2 =0.54). There was 0.87 mm (95% CI [−1.84, −0.20]) less arch height drop in 3D-print compared to Traditional. The SPM analyses revealed condition main effects on ankle moment (p < 0.001) and ankle power (p < 0.001). There were significant differences between control condition and both 3D-print and Traditional conditions. For ankle moment and power, there were no differences between 3D-print and Traditional conditions.
Significance: 3D-printed FOs are more effective in reducing arch height drop, whist both FOs lowered ankle plantarflexion moment and power compared to no FOs. The results support the use of 3D-printed FOs as being equally effective as traditionally-made FOs in changing lower limb biomechanics for a population of flat-footed individuals with unilateral plantar fasciopathy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)257-264
Number of pages8
JournalGait and Posture
Publication statusPublished - 2022


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