Journal article

Postural adjustment in experimental leg length difference evaluated by means of thermal infrared imaging.

Limb length discrepancy (LLD) is defined as a condition in which limbs are unequal. The asymmetric load of body segments secondary to LLD may cause a tonic contraction of back and lower limb muscles, thus resulting in subtle cutaneous temperature variations. The aim of this study was to test the capability of high-resolution thermal infrared (IR) imaging to measure the cutaneous temperature short-term adaptation, potentially associated with 'forced' LLD conditions. An experimental LLD, obtained by placing a 20 mm foot support under the dominant foot, was used. IR imaging on 18 male healthy volunteers was performed in three experimental conditions of standing position: (T(0)) neutral posture; (T(1)) experimental LLD; (T(2)) neutral posture as in T(0). Temperature variations were evaluated on the cutaneous projection of postural muscles bellies. Significant and specific temperature variations among conditions were ipsilaterally observed on the tibialis anterior, gastrocnemius, quadriceps and latissimus dorsi muscles. Specific patterns characterized the cutaneous temperature as a consequence of the muscle activity associated with the posture variation. IR imaging was able to highlight specific functional activations. The method is non-invasive and it can be repeated without any discomfort for the physiopathological and clinical evaluation of LLD patients.

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