A study comparing the metabolic demands of walking in people with lower-limb injuries with and without a passive-dynamic AFO found that the use of the AFO did not significantly change energetic demand. The researchers then compared the results to individuals with unilateral transtibial amputations and able-bodied controls.
Thirteen individuals with lower-limb injury who used a passive-dynamic AFO underwent metabolic analysis at three standardized speeds with and without their AFO. Energy demand was measured through oxygen consumption, heart rate, and perceived exertion. Results were compared to individuals with unilateral transtibial amputations who used a passive prosthetic foot and able-bodied controls with no musculoskeletal, neurological, or cardiovascular deficits.
Heart rate was significantly greater for the participants with limb injury than able-bodied controls, but perceived exertion was significantly lower. There were no significant differences between participants with a lower-limb injury (with or without the AFO) and individuals with transtibial amputations.
The study’s authors concluded that many individuals with lower-limb injuries can expect to use passive-dynamic AFOs at little to no metabolic consequence.
The study, “Effect of custom carbon ankle-foot orthosis use on energetic demands of walking and comparisons to individuals with amputation,” was published in Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation