The study of the mechanical properties of the human body that affect its movements.
A biomechanical exam, what is it?
A biomechanical exam is a comprehensive assessment of the way the human body functions while walking and while practicing sports. Both static and dynamic tests are conducted to investigate the body’s osteo-articular and muscular functions.
In addition to a physical and clinical assessment, a podiatrist will examine the patient’s biomechanics with the help of pressure analysis imaging technology including sensors embedded in shoes and/or placed on the floor with cameras as well as X-ray imaging.
This information is then analyzed in order to identify the source of the problem, establish a podiatric diagnosis and ultimately develop of an appropriate treatment plan.
A biomechanical exam, who is it for?
A biomechanical exam is an indispensable tool in the following cases:
- Plantar misalignment (flat, high or abnormal arches)
- Pain in the feet, ankles, legs, knees, hips or back
- Excessive accumulation of calluses and hard skin under the feet
- Abnormal or excessive wear and tear of shoes
- Athletes aiming to optimize their performance and prevent injuries
- Athletes wishing to identify the source of biomechanical pain
- Verifying normal development in children
- Persons of all ages who wish to ensure optimal foot health and posture
What are the earnings of a biomechanical exam?
- Efficiently identifies the mechanical abnormalities of the patient
- Supports a more accurate diagnosis and the identification of underlying causes
- Helps the patient better understand the issue since the results of the analysis are explained on the spot
- Supports the development of an appropriate and personalized treatment plan
- Provides a holistic assessment of the foot and lower limb function
- Provides an overall picture of the patient’s posture
Patient history and physical exam:
Review of the patient’s medical history and functional tests performed standing or lying down.
Computerized gait and posture analysis:
A number of determining biomechanical factors are assessed using pressure sensors connected to cameras.
Digital X-rays and related exams:
Various angles are measured to better evaluate bone alignment. Additional exams are sometimes necessary to establish a more exact diagnosis (e.g. diagnostic ultrasound, scanogram,etc).
The condition and personalized treatment plan are explained:
Your podiatrist provides you with an overview of your foot health and suggests a treatment plan based on your needs.
After reviewing the patient’s medical history, the podiatrist then performs several functional tests with the patient lying down and standing.
Afterwards, a comprehensive gait analysis is conducted thanks to software using pressure sensors connected to cameras. This allows the podiatrist to assess a number of factors that are important in walking and running: distribution of pressure points, trajectory of the mass centre, asymmetry and deviations, synchronism, movement of the various parts of the lower limb, etc.
The same technology is then used to evaluate the patient’s standing posture: weight distribution between both feet, pressure segmentation on the front and back of the feet, deviation and shifting of the mass centre.
The X-rays of the feet are then studied to assess bone and joint health, search for anatomical variations that can negatively impact the feet’s function and most importantly, evaluate alignment by calculating various angles or even the length of certain bones. If the patient has pain, the X-rays can also help pinpoint the diagnosis.
After this exam, additional tests can sometimes be required to establish a more precise diagnosis. For example, if the affected structure cannot be seen on an X-ray, which is the case for tendons and ligaments, an ultrasound may be appropriate. When a leg-length discrepancy is suspected, a scanogram is often necessary to confirm the diagnosis and take more accurate measures.
Finally, once your condition has been analyzed, your podiatrist will provide an overview of your foot health and suggest an appropriate treatment based on your needs if one is required. Depending on your case, he or she may prescribe stretching and strength-building exercises, plantar orthotics, splints, drugs, manipulative therapy and other treatment options (radial shockwave therapy, cortisone injections, etc.).
The technology used by Propulsion clinics is unique and makes it possible to analyze plantar pressures directly inside the patient’s shoes. This allows the podiatrist to evaluate the feet’s response to an intervention such as plantar orthotics.
“A foot scanner is enough to investigate my feet and make appropriate orthotics!”
These generic foot “scanners” produce an image of plantar pressures while you are standing. However, this two-dimensional photography does nothing to explain the source of these pressures! To make an appropriate treatment such as orthotics, a comprehensive study of the feet in static and dynamic is needed, in standing position, walking and lying down.
For example, a foot with a very high arch can produce the same print as one with a fallen arch.
“My orthotist (or orthesist) has the same training as a podiatrist to conduct biomechanical exams.”
Even though orthotists have an adequate college-level training in the general biomechanics of the human body, podiatrists have doctorate degree and deeper knowledge of the feet and their function. In contrary to orthesists, podiatrists can prescribe further testing, like X-rays and other imaging tests. Finally, they also have the skills to establish a podiatric, medical diagnosis in addition to prescribing a treatment plan.