Background: Toe clearance on stairs is typically measured using optoelectronic systems, though these are often constrained to the laboratory, due to their complex setups. Here we measured stair toe clearance through a novel prototype photogate setup and compared this to optoelectronic measurements. Methods: Twelve participants (age 22 ± 3 years) completed 25 stair ascent trials, each on a seven-step staircase. Toe clearance over the fifth step edge was measured using Vicon and the photogates. Twenty-two photogates were created in rows through laser diodes and phototransistors. The height of the lowest photogate broken at step-edge crossing was used to determine photogate toe clearance. A limits of agreement analysis and Pearson’s correlation coefficient compared the accuracy, precision and relationship between systems. Results: We found a mean difference of −1.5 mm (accuracy) between the two measurement systems, with upper and lower limits (precision) of 10.7 mm and −13.8 mm, respectively. A strong positive correlation was also found (r = 70, n = 12, p = 0.009) between the systems. Discussion: The results suggest that photogates could be an option for measuring real-world stair toe clearances, where optoelectronic systems are not routinely used. Improvements to the design and measurement factors may help to improve the precision of the photogates.
Bibliographical noteCopyright © 2023 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
Funding: This research was funded by a Liverpool John Moores University (UK) PhD scholarship.
- stair safety
- toe clearance