Comfort perception of 3D printed orthotics in individuals with symptomatic pes planus

Malia Ho, Julie Nguyen, Luke Heales, Crystal O. Kean, Pui Wah Kong, Kerwin Talbot, Robert Stanton

Research output: Contribution to journalMeeting Abstractpeer-review


Introduction: Custom-made foot orthoses are an integral part of managing of foot disorders in individuals with symptomatic pes planus (flat feet). Traditional orthotic fabrication is time-consuming and labour intensive. Technological advancement means that the orthotic design process can be automated, and manufacture could include the use of 3D printing. Purported benefits include reduced design and manufacturing time, ability to replicate subsequent orthotic devices, a reduction in waste production and improved fit and comfort. This study compared the structural dimensions of 3D printed and traditionally-made foot orthoses, and comfort perception in individuals with symptomatic pes planus.
Methods: Thirteen flat-footed individuals with unilateral heel pain participated in this study. Participants’ feet were measured using a foot scanner and plaster casting. Foot scans and plaster casts were sent to a single orthotic laboratory which produced a 3D printed and a traditional foot orthotic device. Orthotic length, width, arch height and heel cup height were measured using callipers. Following fitment, participants performed three walking trials 1) no orthoses, 2) 3D printed orthoses and 3) traditionally-made orthoses. Comfort perception was recorded with a comfort survey on a scale of -50 (most uncomfortable) to +50 (most comfortable), with ‘zero’ being neither comfortable nor uncomfortable. Paired t-tests examined differences in orthotic dimensions and one-way ANOVA was used to analyse comfort perception. Statistical significance was accepted at p<0.05.
Results: Traditionally-made orthoses were narrower (p<0.001), had lower arch heights at the sustentaculum tali (p=0.005) and navicular (p=0.003), and lower heel cup height (p<0.001) compared to 3D printed orthoses. There was no difference in orthoses length (p=0.286). A significant difference in comfort perception in overall experience (F(2,36) = 4.81, p =0.014), heel cushioning (F(2,36) = 6.20, p =0.005), forefoot cushioning (F(2,36) = 6.30, p =0.004), medio-lateral control (F(2,36) = 8.17, p =0.001), arch support (F2,36 = 11.16, p <0.001) and heel cup fit (F(2,36) = 12.45, p <0.001) was observed. Post hoc tests with Bonferroni correction revealed that 3D printed orthoses and traditionally made orthoses were both rated more comfortable than no orthoses. There was no difference in ratings between 3D printed orthoses and traditionally-made foot orthoses.
Discussion: Traditionally-made orthoses are narrower, have lower arch heights, and have lower heel cup heights compared to 3D printed orthoses. These differences do not affect the comfort perception in wearers with symptomatic pes planus. 3D printing appears to be a viable alternative orthotic fabrication option but future studies comparing the biomechanical impact of 3D printed orthoses is needed.
Conflict of interest statement: My co-authors and I acknowledge that we have no conflict of interest of relevance to the submission of this abstract.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S50-S51
Number of pages2
JournalJournal of Science and Medicine in Sport
Issue numberSupp 1
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021
Externally publishedYes
EventSports Medicine Australia (SMA) e-conference Showcase 2021 -
Duration: 23 Oct 202123 Oct 2021 (Conference Abstracts)

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