5 Key Considerations when Buying a Pressure Measurement System for Clinical Practice - The Footscan Standard
Published by Harry Halsey (October 11th 2023)
Pressure measurement systems are designed to provide objective movement data during an individual’s walking or running gait, and can even be a useful tool to gather insightful data when assessing functional movements in clinical practice. Traditional systems, like Footscan are a flat, rigid plate-like surface embedded with multiple pressure sensors which measure the load exerted by the user’s feet. Although so simple, the world of pressure plates can be very diverse in quality and user experience, but today’s blog will provide the 5 key considerations to bear in mind when deciding which system to invest in…
1) Sensor Acquisition Frequency & Resolution
Being able to accurately collect data of significant quality is pivotal when measuring your patients gait and biomechanical function. Two factors, sensor acquisition frequency and resolution, are important parameters that dictate a systems effectiveness at doing this. Acquisition frequency, commonly known as sampling frequency, refers to the rate at which technical equipment, like pressure plates, can record data points per second, and is measured in Hertz (Hz). Resolution refers to a pressure plate’s ability to distinguish small differences in pressure distribution across the plate, similar to how pixelated or clear a video you are watching is displayed. Footscan has exceptional capabilities considering both factors, with devices achieving sampling frequencies of up to 500 Hz with 10-bit resolution. To measure foot plantar pressure precisely for running, sensors must be capable of sampling at 200Hz , with systems of 100Hz and below missing key movement data.
2) Supporting Research & History
There are a variety of pressure measurement systems on the market, but what sets them apart? The volume of supporting evidence-based research should strongly be considered when deciding which system to introduce to your practice. Footscan has 3,000+ research publications evaluating the devices accuracy, validity, reliability, and repeatability during assessment protocols. With a longstanding history dating back to 1984, Footscan came to life and was ahead of its time integrating dynamic pressure with advanced software. Formally known as RSscan, Footscan became the industry frontrunner for dynamic gait analysis, and in 2014 partnered with Materialise to offer the worlds first dynamic, data-driven bespoke orthoses. Crowned with such an abundance of literature and years of reputation at the highest levels of elite sport and research, Footscan is the first and only pressure plate system to be ‘Professionally Approved’ by the Royal College of Podiatry, meeting the highest clinical standards.
3) Wider Clinical Applications
Do not limit your clinical services with your next pressure plate system due to restricted hardware design and software features. Despite being typically used to assess gait biomechanics and foot pressures, Footscan is one of the most versatile solutions allowing clinicians to get creative with how they utilise the system. With three assessment protocols; static, balance, and dynamic, Footscan offers a comprehensive range of objective measurements, from dynamic gait analysis, to falls prevention screening and functional movement analysis such as squats, calf raises, jumps, landing and even press-ups. Furthermore, Footscan can identify specific areas of increased susceptibility to ulcerations in the form of impulse, arguably the most important, but often overlooked screening examination during a diabetic foot assessment. To top off the many applications, due to the plug-and-play USB nature of the Footscan system, you as the clinician can take your pressure plate wherever you wish to go, allowing you to engage with the local community, whether that be your local golf club, athletics association, or event!
When investing in technology, having trust that your newly purchased equipment will always be there when you need it with no issues is vital. Here at Gait and Motion Technology, we have close to two decades of experience working with Footscan, and firmly believe in the robustness and reliability of the system. Footscan can take up to 3 tonnes in weight, and has even been used to assess horses, camels and elephants in research! We offer 5-year warranty with your Footscan purchase in the UK, longer than what the typical commercial plate lasts in its lifetime. Alongside your purchase, our team provide comprehensive support across the board; from technical, clinical and marketing, including a nationwide patient referral network to ensure that your clinic is maximising your services and return on investment. Footscan is manufactured as an ‘open system’, meaning that certain individual components can be replaced if damaged. Most other commercial plates are typically ‘closed systems’, a major concern for the buyer as any faults or damage will be terminal to the plate.
5) Data-Driven Orthoses
I have the data, but how can I use it to design orthoses? Every pressure plate device can provide some form of data, however this can sometimes be confusing and hard to interpret in poor, dated software interfaces. The vast majority of systems also have no direct link to orthotic design whatsoever and are merely a visual aid to show patients areas of high pressure. Footscan on the other hand, is the only pressure measurement system on the market that is able to directly translate the patients dynamic pressure data into a bespoke, 3D-printed orthotic design, using scientifically validated AI algorithms to calculate certain key parameters such as localised stiffness and torsional control.
Branded as Phits, these award-winning orthoses have revolutionised the world of foot and lower limb care and dominated the elite athlete arena in recent years due to the data-driven methodology and results. Manufactured by Materialise, a global leader in 3D-printing, Phits allow clinicians to effortlessly cross-reference the pressure data collected just seconds before to design their orthoses, which can be built and visualised in full 360 degrees on screen. The Footscan software also allows for a dynamic pressure overlay on top of the orthotic design, enabling the clinician to optimise their prescriptions and offloading. It is even possible to integrate a 3D scan of the foot and directly merge this with the 2D pressure data as part of the orthotic design; a true game changer!
Overall, there is more a pressure measurement system can provide than just conventional pressure analysis. With the Royal College of Podiatry in full support, we at Gait and Motion Technology firmly believe that the completeness, reputation, robustness and vast application of Footscan is far superior to all other pressure plates on the market and we would love to show you why.
To learn more about our Footscan technology, or to book a live software demonstration, please contact us here and step into the future of gait analysis and prescription orthoses.
 Urry, S. (1999) Plantar pressure-measurement sensors. Measurement Science and Technology. Volume 10 (1).