A study evaluated the effect of an adjustable AFO on users’ walking stability on a ramp during weight loading and unloading transitions of the stance phase. It concluded that the AFO affected gait stability during transitional phases, and by applying AFO adjustments, neuromotor balance control achieved stability margins closer to a normal range.
The research team assessed gait stability with a motion-capture system and a force platform at neuromotor input (center-of-mass) and output (center-of-pressure) responses. Stability margins illustrated the loading phase as stable and the unloading phase as unstable transitions in all walking conditions. Further, a significant decrease in stability was observed by wearing the AFO in its free mode, which was improved by tuning the AFO.
Results from neuromotor outputs also illustrated a strong interlimb correlation, which the study’s authors said implied a compensatory interaction between opposite limbs loading and unloading transitions. Neuromotor inputs illustrated unstable responses both in loading and unloading transitions and were observed to be greater in magnitudes compared with output margins, they wrote.
The results supported the hypothesis that a wearable AFO affects gait stability during transitional phases, and by applying AFO adjustments, neuromotor balance control achieves stability margins closer to normal range.
The study, “Evaluation of an ankle–foot orthosis effect on gait transitional stability during ramp ascent/descent,” was published in Medical & Biological Engineering & Computing.