Aim: The aim of this study is to evaluate the compliance with ankle-foot orthoses (AFOs) in patients previously prescribed and affected with Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT).
Methods: Twenty-five Italian patients (8 males 17 females; mean age: 41.6 years, range 16-54) with severe bilateral footdrop (leg-sole angle alpha >105 degrees ) alone or associated with other problems (rotation, plantarflexor failure, knee flexor failure) were examined by a physiatrist (with measurement of the leg-sole angle alpha' with their footwear) and interviewed by a psychologist.
Results: Only 5 patients (20%) used AFOs (3 prefabricated polypropylene AFOs, 2 custom-made short AFOs incorporated in high-top boots) with satisfactory functional results (alpha' <=94 degrees ; reported increased mobility and no more falls). The interview revealed that all patients had a bad relationship with their own body. The 3 subjects using prefabricated AFOs said that they hated them and one of them complained of pain. Patients not using AFOs justified their decision with statements such as: ''I am not yet ready to accept them'' (n=3) or ''I can still manage without them for a while'' (n=2) or both (n=15). Four patients had experienced pain during the trial, 2 had not found proper shoes to accommodate them and 12 were absolutely not interested in AFOs and, therefore, had not gone to an orthotist.
Conclusion: Compliance with AFOs is poor. Patients with CMT discard AFOs because they highlight their disability, are not essential for their limited daily walking and are uncomfortable. We suggest that prescription of AFOs be accompanied with psychological support and that research of more comfortable and cosmetically acceptable solutions for the problem of footdrop be stimulated.