Although patients with drop foot show an overall preference for functional electrical stimulation over ankle foot orthoses, individuals familiar with both therapies recognize the benefits and drawbacks of the two modalities, according to research published in the September issue of Physiotherapy.
Investigators at Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh, U.K., conducted relatively informal interviews with nine drop foot patients about each patient’s experiences with both FES and one of several AFO types. Four caregivers were also interviewed.
All patients, who had different degrees of walking difficulty, had experienced a stroke two to nine years before the interview.
All but one person interviewed preferred FES, which respondents said they associated with greater comfort, being able to move the ankle more freely, and walking more normally, safely, and independently. Several people opted for AFOs when FES equipment failed, when travelling, and near water. One person limited FES use because of allergic reactions.
When participants weighed the pros and cons, there was a predominant preference for FES, but many also noted that AFOs can overcome some drawbacks of electrical stimulation.
By Emily Delzell