A New Noninvasive Flatfoot Detector

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Abstract

The exact incidence of flatfoot in children is unknown; it is very common and is, in fact, one of the most common conditions seen in pediatric orthopedic practices. The early detection of flatfeet in children can prevent many serious complications and further damage to other body parts, such as the knee and the lower back, later in life. Early detection can allow for permanent correction of foot deformities. The available method to detect flatfoot in Sudan is visual inspection, and it is a poor, subjective, and inaccurate method. This research was aimed to design and implement an electronic device capable of monitoring the foot condition and early detection of flatfoot in children as to minimize the cost of the investigation and detection of flatfoot. The design consists of ultrasonic sensor, motor driver, direct current (DC) motor, and LCD. In the designed device, the ultrasonic sensor measures the distance and height of foot arch; the microcontroller was programmed to compare the measured readings with the normal foot parameters. The motor driver was used to control the DC motor. On the other hand, the DC motor drives the sensor along the foot. All the previous steps were controlled by a microcontroller. Finally, the LCD will display the obtained result.

The project was tested in the group of 5- to 7-year-old children, it was found that the prevalence of flatfoot decreased significantly with age; in the group of 5-year-old children, 71% showed a flatfoot, whereas in the group of 7-year-old children, only 67% had a flatfoot. Boys had a significantly greater tendency for flatfoot than girls: the prevalence of flatfoot in boys was 85% and 29% in girls. Nineteen percent of the children were overweight or obese. Significant differences in prevalence of flatfoot between overweight, obese, and normal-weight children were observed. The result of the designed flatfoot detector was compared with diagnosis of the cases by specialized physicians; the diagnosis results were perfectly matching the designed device ones. It can be concluded that the designed flatfoot detector has the ability to detect flatfoot in children as well as adults.

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