Computer-aided design of customized foot orthoses: reproducibility and effect of method used to obtain foot shape

Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2012 May;93(5):863-70. doi: 10.1016/j.apmr.2011.12.019.


Objective: To determine, for a number of techniques used to obtain foot shape based around plaster casting, foam box impressions, and 3-dimensional scanning, (1) the effect the technique has on the overall reproducibility of custom foot orthoses (FOs) in terms of inter- and intracaster reliability and (2) the reproducibility of FO design by using computer-aided design (CAD) software in terms of inter- and intra-CAD operator reliability for all these techniques.

Design: Cross-sectional study.

Setting: University laboratory.

Participants: Convenience sample of individuals (N=22) with noncavus foot types.

Interventions: Not applicable.

Main outcome measures: Parameters of the FO design (length, width at forefoot, width at rearfoot, and peak medial arch height), the forefoot to rearfoot angle of the foot shape, and overall volume match between device designs.

Results: For intra- and intercaster reliability of the different methods of obtaining the foot shape, all methods fell below the reproducibility quality threshold for the medial arch height of the device, and volume matching was <80% for all methods. The more experienced CAD operator was able to achieve excellent reliability (intraclass correlation coefficients >0.75) for all variables with the exception of forefoot to rearfoot angle, with overall volume matches of >87% of the devices.

Conclusions: None of the techniques for obtaining foot shape met all the criteria for excellent reproducibility, with the peak arch height being particularly variable. Additional variability is added at the CAD stage of the FO design process, although with adequate operator experience good to excellent reproducibility may be achieved at this stage. Taking only basic linear or angular measurement parameters from the device may fail to fully capture the variability in FO design.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Computer-Aided Design*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Equipment Design / methods
  • Female
  • Foot / anatomy & histology*
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Orthotic Devices*
  • Podiatry / methods*
  • Reproducibility of Results