Background: Ankle-foot orthoses are commonly prescribed in Charcot-Marie-Tooth type 1A disease to improve quality of walking and reduce the risk of falling due to the foot drop.
Objectives: This study aimed at assessing the effect of an anterior ankle-foot orthosis on walking economy in a group of Charcot-Marie-Tooth type 1A patients.
Study design: Within-group comparisons.
Methods: 7 Charcot-Marie-Tooth type 1A patients (four women and three men; 37 ± 11 years; age range = 22-53 years) were asked to walk on a circuit at their self-selected speeds ('slow', 'comfortable' and 'fast') in two walking conditions: (1) with shoes only and (2) with Taloelast(®) anterior elastic ankle-foot orthoses. Speed of walking and metabolic cost of walking energy cost per unit of distance were assessed at the three self-selected speeds of walking for both walking conditions.
Results: Speed of walking at the three self-selected speeds did not differ between shoes only and anterior elastic ankle-foot orthoses, whereas walking energy cost per unit of distance at comfortable speed was lower in patients using anterior elastic ankle-foot orthoses with respect to shoes only (2.39 ± 0.22 vs 2.70 ± 0.19 J kg(-1) m(-1); P < 0.05).
Conclusions: In Charcot-Marie-Tooth type 1A patients, the use of anterior elastic ankle-foot orthoses improved walking economy by reducing the energy cost of walking per unit of distance, thus reflecting a lower level of metabolic effort and improved mechanical efficiency in comparison with shoes only.
Clinical relevance: From a practical perspective, Charcot-Marie-Tooth type 1A patients with anterior elastic ankle-foot orthoses can walk for a longer duration with a lower level of physical effort. Improvements in walking economy due to ankle-foot orthoses are likely a consequence of the reduction in steppage gait.
Keywords: Rehabilitation of orthoses users; gait; hereditary neuromuscular disorder; oxygen consumption; walking energy cost.
© The International Society for Prosthetics and Orthotics 2013.