Researchers comparing walking energy cost between an anterior AFO (A-AFO) and a posterior AFO (P-AFO) in people with foot drop found that A-AFOs resulted in lower energy costs of walking and higher levels of perceived comfort. This finding could allow people with foot drop to walk farther with less physical effort, according to the study’s authors.
For the study, 23 adults with foot drop were asked to walk for five minutes at their self-selected walking speed under three conditions: with shoes only, with an A-AFO, and with a P-AFO. Spatiotemporal gait parameters (speed, step length, and step frequency) and walking energy cost per unit of distance were assessed for each walking condition. The participants, 14 women and nine men with a mean age 56.8 years, used a visual analog scale to quantify his or her level of comfort with each orthosis.
The spatiotemporal gait parameters were higher with the A-AFO than with the P-AFO or shoes only. Self-selected walking speed was higher with the A-AFO than with the P-AFO; step length with the A-AFO was higher than with shoes only, but not higher than with the P-AFO. No difference was found between step frequencies in the three walking conditions. Walking energy cost per unit of distance was lower with the A-AFO than with the P-AFO or shoes only, and the level of perceived comfort was higher with the A-AFO than with the P-AFO.
The researchers noted that because their data resulted from a single walk trial, a follow-up study to assess function, compliance, and satisfaction will be useful to determine long-term effects and efficacy.
To read the full text of the study, published online before print on June 19, visit the
Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine website.