This study proposes a method to assess foot placement during walking using an ambulatory measurement system consisting of orthopaedic sandals equipped with force/moment sensors and inertial sensors (accelerometers and gyroscopes). Two parameters, lateral foot placement (LFP) and stride length (SL), were estimated for each foot separately during walking with eyes open (EO), and with eyes closed (EC) to analyze if the ambulatory system was able to discriminate between different walking conditions. For validation, the ambulatory measurement system was compared to a reference optical position measurement system (Optotrak). LFP and SL were obtained by integration of inertial sensor signals. To reduce the drift caused by integration, LFP and SL were defined with respect to an average walking path using a predefined number of strides. By varying this number of strides, it was shown that LFP and SL could be best estimated using three consecutive strides. LFP and SL estimated from the instrumented shoe signals and with the reference system showed good correspondence as indicated by the RMS difference between both measurement systems being 6.5 ± 1.0 mm (mean ± standard deviation) for LFP, and 34.1 ± 2.7 mm for SL. Additionally, a statistical analysis revealed that the ambulatory system was able to discriminate between the EO and EC condition, like the reference system. It is concluded that the ambulatory measurement system was able to reliably estimate foot placement during walking.
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