CGA FAQ: Foot Switches

Hi there,

I have been amazed at the incredible responses each
mail gets on this list so here is another one to test
I have to build a simple foot switch and have very
little time to do so....
does anyone know of any designs or web-pages on this
It will be part of my Final Year Project here in the
University of Limerick, Ireland, a Gait Correction
tool using FES.

Thanks and Regards,
Brendan Cleary

Simple footswitch idea number 1:

Use sponge and conductive tape. Cf. Patterson FR, Gorman LK, Wetzel MC.
Advantages of a simple contact switch for human locomotion. Am J Phys Med
1984; 63 (1): 11-17.

Simple footswitch idea number 2:

Put an accelerometer on the heel (or wherever seems to work best for your
particular subject). Note the characteristic pattern that the output
exhibits to reveal heel-strike, foot-flat, etc. This method is also nice for
identifying notable events when the foot contacts the ground in an
"abnormal" manner, for example pes equinus when the heel switch would never
be activated. If you have a bunch of these things and don't mind all the
wires and what they attach to, put more than one accelerometer on the foot.

Hope this helps.

Paul Andrew
Hiroshima University

Hi Brendan,

There are two commercial foot switches available that I know of - there are
the ones that we sell (Motion Lab Systems, Baton Rouge LA) and those made by
B&L Engineering (Tustin, CA).  The links to these sites are attached below.

Both these foot switches are pressure switches that are placed under the foot.
A common method of building "one-off" foot switches for student projects is to
use the material (called Press-ex I think?) that is found in many automobile
steering wheel horn actuators (the soft squishy ones)...

Edmund Cramp
Motion Lab Systems, Inc.
4326 Pine Park Drive, Baton Rouge, LA  70809  USA
+1 225 928-4248 (voice, 2 lines), +1 225 928-0261 (fax)
email <>
web site <>

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