Fine-tuning AFO-footwear Reduces Energy Use in CP

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Adapting splints and footwear can decrease the energy children with CP use.

Photograph courtesy of Staffordshire University.

Researchers have confirmed that adapting AFOs in combination with the footwear used by children with cerebral palsy (CP) can decrease the energy they use by as much as 33 percent. A team in England examined the effectiveness of tuning the AFO-footwear combination using clinical trials with families in the West Midlands, England.

Gait analysis assessment was conducted with five children aged 7 to 11 years old with a diagnosis of CP (one hemiplegic and four diplegic participants, two girls, three boys, with a Gross Motor Functional Classification System of 2) at a gait analysis laboratory. Participants were assessed while barefoot and with non-tuned and tuned AFOs.

"Our research shows that the appropriate design and tailoring of splints [AFOs] can reduce the energy used by children with CP while increasing their speed and distance, compared with a splint which is not fine-tuned. This is something which could have a significant impact on their quality of life," said Nicola Eddison, PhD, clinical lead for orthotics service at The Royal Wolverhampton National Health Service Trust and a senior research fellow in the Centre for Biomechanics and Rehabilitation Technologies at Staffordshire University, Stoke-on-Trent, England, where the study was conducted.

Children wearing fine-tuned AFOs showed improvements in several areas, including hip and pelvic function and knee extension, while a non-tuned AFO potentially showed a decrease in hip function.

The study, The effect of tuning ankle foot orthoses-footwear combinations on gait kinematics of children with cerebral palsy: A case series, was published in the journal The Foot.

Editor's note: This story was adapted from materials provided by Staffordshire University.