The Design of a shoe for the analysis of ambulation pattern for diverse age-cohort
Ambulation is one of the important activities of daily life aided by musculoskeletal system. However, with ageing due to muscle weakness and decreased range of motion of joints, different walking abnormalities may occur. These abnormalities may result in deviation of the spatio-temporal gait parameters. Mostly, alteration in pattern of locomotion has been observed with the increase in the age of an individual. This variation in the ambulation pattern and subsequent decrease in the gait parameters pertains to the onset of musculoskeletal disorders such as osteoarthritis and osteoporosis as well as various postural abnormalities. Hence, wearable technologies can aid individuals to monitor their gait parameters efficiently and alert them in case there is a significant decrease. This paper describes the design of an Arduino based monitoring system which analyzes the two significant gait parameters: step length and ground reaction force (GRF). A diverse age cohort consisting of 70 healthy individuals with ages in the range of 18 years to 80 years were recruited for this study. The shoe prototype measures the step length and ground reaction force (GRF). This is accomplished by making use of sensors including a Force Sensitive Resistive sensor (FSR) and an Ultrasonic sensor. The FSR sensor exhibits the ground reaction force that the ground exerts on a body that comes in contact with it; whereas, the ultrasonic sensor measures the step length which pertains to the distance between the initial contact of one foot and the point of initial contact of the other foot. The results of the study show that with age there is a significant decrease in the ambulation parameters. Young participants were observed to exhibit higher values of step length and ground reaction force (GRF) as compared to older participants who exhibit significant decrease in the parameter values. The results also show that there is a significant difference between the age of the individuals and the step length and ground reaction force values. The decrease in the gait parameters with increasing age permits this shoe prototype to be used for clinical settings in the future and be able to analyze the onset of any musculoskeletal disorder.
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