February 2016

Study reports improved pain and gait with walker boot after ankle surgery

In the moment: O&P

By Jordana Bieze Foster

A walker boot is preferable to two other ankle devices for improving pain and gait after internal fixation for ankle fracture, according to research from the University of Oxford in the UK.

Investigators analyzed 18 patients six weeks after surgery under three ankle device conditions: a walker boot, a stirrup brace, and an elastic sleeve.

The stirrup brace and, to a greater extent, the walker boot were associated with less pain and single-limb support time asymmetry than the sleeve. The walker boot was also associated with a significantly wider step width than the sleeve, which may improve gait stability.

The findings, epublished in January by the Journal of Ortho­paedic & Sports Physical Therapy, contrast with those of a similar December 2015 study of healthy individuals by the same research group. In that study, published by the Journal of Electromyo­graphy & Kinesiology, gait asymmetry was significantly worse in the walker boot than the two other devices.


Keene DJ, Willett K, Lamb SE. The immediate effects of different types of ankle support introduced 6 weeks after surgical internal fixation for ankle fracture on gait and pain: a randomized, crossover trial. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther 2016 Jan 26. [Epub ahead of print]

Keene DJ, Willett K, Lamb SE. The effects of ankle supports on gait in adults: a randomized cross-over study. J Electromyogr Kinesiol 2015;25(6): 973-981.

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