Foot drop stimulator or AFO interventions improve gait in post-stroke patients

Ankle-foot orthoses or foot drop stimulators yielded significant improvements in gait speed and other functional outcomes for patients with foot drop resulting from a stroke, according to a study published in Stroke.

The study, which was conducted by researchers at the University of Kansas Medical Center, included 197 patients who had a stroke. The patients were randomly assigned to use either an ankle-foot orthosis (AFO) or foot drop stimulator (FDS) for 30 weeks. Each patient received eight dose-matched physical therapy sessions within the first 6 weeks.

The researchers found significant improvement within both groups in comfortable gait speed and fast gait speed at 30 weeks compared to baseline measurements. They also found no significant differences in gait speed between the two groups. Secondary outcomes, including body structure and function, activity and participation, improved for both groups, but user satisfaction was higher for the FDS group.

“Although both groups did receive intervention, this large clinical trial provides evidence that FDS or AFO with initial physical therapy sessions can provide a significant and clinically meaningful benefits even years after stroke,” the authors wrote in the abstract.

For more information:

Kluding, PM. Stroke. 2013. doi:10.1161/strokeaha.111.000334.

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