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Outline of a Clinical Study to Identify Correlations Between Sub-Optimal Foot/Core Function and Chronic and Degenerative Pathologies
The correlation between how we use our bodies and the structural issues we encounter is well understood. If we always look at our phone or slouch, we experience neck and shoulder issues and often headaches. Over time we will experience joint degeneration from the excess wear and tear. However, there may be an even more fundamental correlation between our biomechanics and disease states which would be relatively easy to explore. Efficient posture and gait dynamics use less energy, leaving more of our resources available to respond to demands (stress). It appears logical that over time, this would show a statistically significant deviation in health outcomes based on variances in posture and gait. In a large enough sample, this deviation may correlate to Autoimmune, Cancer, Mental Health, and other diagnosed pathologies, as well as the large cohort of undiagnosed, general reporting of malaise.
The bottom of our feet is where our bodies interact with the ground, and how our feet manage this interaction reflects the expression of how we stand and move. Collecting relevant data would be a simple matter of using a pressure mat to monitor Stance and Gait (see TEKSCAN for an example). The mat could easily be embedded in a longitudinal population study, or as an aspect of routine clinical assessments for minimal additional overhead. If embedded in an assessment protocol, the time involved would be similar to taking a blood pressure reading and require minimal training to implement. The sensor readings would be linked to patient record data for correlating stance/gait patterns to pathology or the absence thereof.
Assessment of Stance and Gait function can be done visually, albeit somewhat subjectively. However, by utilizing a pressure mat and with the advent of Artificial Intelligence (AI), unrealized new structural variance to disease correlations may materialize. AI is exceptionally well suited for this type of data-intense research project. If statistically meaningful correlations emerge, AI-based pressure mat assessments could find their way into the general practice of medicine, offering patients feedback on behavioral modifications that would have disease prevention or recovery efficacy. Something like this project: iPhone App may have utility in this regard. The research would be inherently blind, relying solely on the AI to discern associations in the patient record/sensor data.
A theoretical framework for exploring any revealed patterns is discussed in the section on Tensegrity Principles in Biological Systems. The theory stipulates that optimal posture and gait employ Tensegrity to manage Core Functions, whereas suboptimal posture and gait do not, relying heavily on compressional dynamics to stand and move. A recent study on health in zero gravity (Twins Study) showed significant deviations in health outcomes which may be influenced by weightlessness and the analogous absence of Tensegrity’s foundational structural role in the integration of function (in Gravity) for our bodies.
It is not expected that specific stance and gait variances would find a correlation with specific pathologies, but rather that any sub-optimal stance or gait mode would find a statistically significant correlation to a constellation of chronic, degenerative diseases. However, it is hoped that a specific pattern of stance and gait functions, ideally for this author those described here as optimal, would correlate with reported well-being, increased lifespan and diminished prevalence of pathology. Statistical validation of correlations between patterns of stance or gait and health would contribute novel informed guidance for Physical Therapy and other biomechanics based modalities, potentially extending their scope of practice beyond recovery from physical trauma, to a facet of preventive medicine and recovery care for a broad range of pathologies. Identified correlations, or the absence thereof, would also be a compelling, blind validation or disqualification of the model of optimal stance and gait function presented in the Foot Function Section on this website.
Discussion of projects relating to optimizing Stance and Gait
TRAINING AND RESEARCH INNOVATIONS
An overview of foot structural and functional issues and means to optimize how we use our feet: