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GCU honoured in unveiling of worlds most advanced 3D model of the human foot

19 September 2012

Professor Jim Woodburn

Professor Jim Woodburn

The most advanced computer model of the human foot ever created has been unveiled in Europe and it will be named after Glasgow and the Dutch city of Maastricht. 

Researchers at Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) worked in partnership with colleagues at Maastricht University and Danish biomechanical firm AnyBody Technology to develop the pioneering human foot simulation.

The Glasgow/Maastricht Foot Model uses computer technology to model the many bones, joints, ligaments, muscles and tendons which make up the human foot.

It will lead to the manufacture of better made and more efficient orthotic devices which should cut recovery times and reduce symptoms for the roughly 200 million Europeans who suffer from disabling foot and ankle conditions.

The computer model – developed from data collected at GCU and Maastricht University - can be used to test a huge range of potential cures and treatments for common conditions, such as flat feet or foot drop – which prevents recovering stroke patients from moving their ankles and toes upwards.   

The work is part of the a-footprint project, a euro 3.7 million funded scheme to develop a new fully integrated design and manufacture process for orthotic devices, utilising new 3D printing techniques. A GCU team is leading a consortium of 12 industrial, university and business partners in the project.

Information about the model was disseminated for the first time on September 20, when GCU partner AnyBody Technology ran a promotional webcast on the new technology. 

Professor Jim Woodburn, project co-ordinator, said: “Previous to this development, most computer models of the human body ended in a black rectangle – the foot was simply too complicated to model. The Glasgow/Maastricht foot is a game changer. It opens the door to a huge range of applications, including the manufacture of better and more efficient orthotics, resulting in quicker recovery times, reduced symptoms and improved functional ability for those suffering from conditions which afflict the foot and lower leg.

“The fact the model has been named, at least in part, after Glasgow is testament to the hard work put in by the team working at GCU.”

Arne Kiis, Sales Manager, AnyBody Technology, said the foot model has an unprecedented level of anatomical detail.

He said: “With the sophisticated analytical capabilities of the AnyBody Modeling System, orthopaedic device manufacturers, gait lab researchers, and others now have a unique opportunity to create a new generation of outstanding products and services based on a thorough understanding of dynamic foot biomechanics.”

Michiel Oosterwaal, clinical researcher at Maastricht University Medical Center, explained the model will also lead to more and better information about the workings of the muscles in the lower leg.

He said: “The collaboration between the teams of GCU and Anybody Technology in this project in general, and development of this model in particular, have been of great use in the foot and ankle research conducted at the Maastricht University Medical Center.”