BMC Geriatrics on September 11 epublished a study examining the effects of prototype footwear made by Mequon, WI-based Dr. Comfort used with textured insoles on balance in older women.
Investigators at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia, measured balance ability and gait patterns in 30 women aged 65 to 83 years under three footwear conditions: their own footwear, flexible footwear, and prototype footwear and insoles designed to improve dynamic balance. The participants documented their perceptions of the footwear in a structured questionnaire.
The researchers selected the Dr. Comfort shoe for its firm rubber sole, laces plus Velcro fastening, high collar, and firm heel counter, and modified the outer sole to optimize slip resistance. They constructed a textured insole from 4-mm thick ethylene vinyl acetate and with dome-shaped projections across the forefoot and along the lateral border, extending to the heel.
When wearing the prototype shoe, participants had a significantly narrower step width and end sway during a tandem walking test compared with the other two footwear conditions. Postural sway, limits of stability, and gait patterns did not differ among footwear conditions. Participants said their own footwear was more attractive, comfortable, well-fitted, and easier to don and doff than the prototype, though 60% said they would consider wearing the prototype to reduce their risk of falling.
Dr. Comfort has the rights to commercialize the footwear if it’s proven effective.