The application of advanced technology to orthopaedic footwear design
Orthopaedic footwear design has traditionally been a craft process. In service delivery, this poses problems of delays in production and inconsistency in quality of fit, function and cosmetic appearance. Advanced technology, in the form of techniques for measurement and computer-aided design ( CAD) systems, is proposed to solve some of these problems. The thesis examines the clinical needs and analyses the application philosophy of such technology to related medical applications. The limitations of current understanding of technical requirements for plantar stress measurement are probed through experimental work to evaluate the effects of spatial resolution and threshold, and three case studies of interest in shoe insert prescription and design are presented. The design of shoe inserts requires consideration of both interface pressure and shape: a further study evaluates the basic information that is required to simulate aspects of the manual shaping process by a computer algorithm. The design of the shoe upper is another stage of vital importance to both fit and appearance. In the volume trade, CAD systems have been extensively developed: the potential to develop on from this established technology is explored via a trial involving the provision of computer-designed shoes for ten patients. From the above investigations into aspects of footwear design, the stages of the integrated system are identified and considered with regards to their service and technology requirements. A description is given of the launch of an anglo-dutch project to develop such a system.