April 2012

AFOs may improve foot placement in patients with poststroke foot drop

In the moment: O&P

By Emily Delzell

Ankle foot orthoses (AFOs) designed to correct foot drop during swing and provide toe clearance may facilitate more accurate foot placement, according to preliminary data presented in March at the American Academy of Orthotists & Prosthetists annual meeting in Atlanta.

Researchers from Northwestern University in Chicago noted that poststroke foot drop results in energy-expensive compensatory motions, including hip hiking, which also affect foot placement and, in turn, body center of motion for mediolateral (ML) balance. Investigators tested six adults who were more than one year poststroke and currently wearing an articulated or posterior leaf spring AFO.

After testing volunteers’ walking speed, leg length, and step width with and without their AFOs they found less accurate ML foot placement on the affected side compared with the sound side at step widths other than preferred step widths.

In addition, all volunteers’ ML distance on the affected side decreased with AFO use, improving ML foot placement accuracy. Investigators noted, however, the difference may not be statistically significant and plan to finish data collection on nine more volunteers.

Zissimopoulos A, Gard S, Stine R, Fatone S. Effects of an ankle foot orthosis on foot placement post-stroke: balance implications. Presented at the 38th Annual Meeting and Symposium of the American Academy of Orthotists & Prosthetists, Atlanta, March 2012.

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