The use of a foot drop stimulator (FDS) or an ankle foot orthosis (AFO) coupled with initial physical therapy sessions significantly improves gait speed in stroke survivors, say authors of a study published electronically ahead of print in May in the journal Stroke.
The authors, from the Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Kansas Medical Center, conducted a multicenter, randomized, single-blind trial comparing FDS and AFO treatments for stroke survivors with gait speeds ≤0.8 m/s. Study participants consisted of 118 males and 79 females, aged 61-72 who experienced a stroke 4-5 years prior to the trial. Participants were treated using FDS or AFO for 30 weeks and provided 8 physical therapy sessions during the first 6 weeks of the trial.
The authors found significant improvements in gait speed using either FDS or AFO, with a mean change of 0.14 m/s for FDS and 0.15 m/s for AFO. When comparing FDS and AFO treatment groups, they did not find much variance in gait speed between the groups, but concluded that the FDS group expressed significantly greater user satisfaction than the control group. They also found significant improvements in standard measures of body structure and function, activity, and participation in both the FDS and AFO treatment groups and concluded that their "clinical trial provides evidence that FDS or AFO with initial physical therapy sessions can provide a significant and clinically meaningful benefit even years after stroke."
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