Immediate comfort perception of 3D-printed foot orthoses in individuals with unilateral heel pain

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: Custom-made foot orthoses (FOs) play an integral part in managing foot disorders. Traditional FO fabrication is time-consuming and labor intensive. Three-dimensional (3D) printed FOs save time and cost compared with the traditional manufacturing process. To date, the differences in dimensions and comfort perception of these orthoses have not been compared in a pathological population. OBJECTIVE: Compare the dimensions between 3D-printed and traditionally made FOs and comfort perception between 3D-printed, traditionally made, and no FOs in individuals with flatfeet and unilateral heel pain. STUDY DESIGN: Within-subject single-blinded randomized crossover study design. METHODS: Thirteen participants had custom-made FOs using 3D-printing and traditional processes. Orthotic lengths, widths, arch heights, and heel cup heights were compared. Participants performed walking trials under three conditions: (1) no orthoses, (2) 3D-printed orthoses, and (3) traditionally made orthoses. Comfort perception was recorded. Orthotic dimensions were compared using paired t tests, and comfort perception were compared using one-way multiple analysis of variance and Bonferroni post hoc tests. RESULTS: Three-dimensional-printed orthoses were wider, have higher arch heights, and heel cup heights compared with traditionally made FOs (medium to large effect sizes). There was a difference in comfort perception between the three orthotic conditions, F(12,62) = 1.99, P = 0.04; Wilk Λ = 0.521, ηp2= 0.279. Post hoc tests show that there is no difference in comfort perception between the 3D-printed and traditionally made FOs. Both FOs were significantly more comfortable than no orthoses. CONCLUSIONS: Three-dimensional printing seems to be a viable alternative orthotic fabrication option. Future studies should compare the biomechanical effects of 3D-printed and traditionally made FOs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-36
Number of pages6
JournalProsthetics and Orthotics International
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2022
Externally publishedYes

Cite this