Computational models offer some unique insights into foot and ankle function that are unavailable from in vivo or in vitro studies. With the appropriate computer model, any physical variable can be "measured" without concern for sensors affecting the measurement. Sensitivity studies can be performed in which one parameter of interest, and only that parameter, is varied, eliminating potentially confounding factors such as anatomic variations in subjects or specimens, and the passage of time. Computer simulations are also generally faster and less expensive than experiments, which necessarily consume physical resources. Computer modeling may be most effective, however, when employed in combination with experiments. The predictions of models must be tested using real data, and models are potentially useful for both explaining experimental results and deciding how best to allocate experimental resources. Such combinations of modeling and experimentation have been employed in several of the studies described in this review, which focuses on the application of computer modeling techniques to understand the functional roles of foot and ankle structures.
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