June 2017

Carbon-fiber AFOs help propel patients with PAD while preserving calf muscle

By Jordana Bieze Foster

Use of carbon-fiber ankle foot orthoses (AFOs) assists with propulsion in patients with peripheral arterial disease (PAD) without compromising calf muscle integrity, according to research from the University of Montana in Missoula.

Investigators enrolled 15  patients with PAD and a history of intermittent claudication (mean age, 67 years) who were fitted with bilateral carbon-fiber AFOs and advised to wear them during daily activities. The researchers assessed gait mechanics while the patients walked at a self-selected speed with and without AFOs after one week of accommodation to the devices, and again after 12 weeks of use.

AFO use was associated with reduced peak ankle plantar flexion power during propulsion, which could help reduce intermittent claudication in patients with PAD, but—surprisingly—no change in calf muscle recruitment. In the 12 patients who completed both assessments, gait parameters after 12 weeks were similar to those seen at the initial testing session.

The findings were presented in early June at the American College of Sports Medicine annual meeting in Denver.


Mizner RL, Mays AA, Mays RJ. Mechanical adaptations in walking performance using ankle foot orthoses for patients with peripheral artery disease. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2017;49(5 Suppl 1):S441.


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