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Neuromuscul Disord. 2007 Mar;17(3):227-30. Epub 2007 Feb 15.

Serial casting of the ankles in Duchenne muscular dystrophy: can it be an alternative to surgery?

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  • 1Department of Physiotherapy, Hammersmith Hospital, London, UK.


The aim of this non-randomized pilot study was to assess whether serial casting can be used in Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) patients to reduce tendo-achilles (TA) contractures and to allow the fitting of the knee-ankle-foot orthoses (KAFOs) at the end of the functional walking. TA range and age at loss of standing with KAFOs were prospectively assessed in nine DMD patients who underwent serial casting prior to rehabilitation into KAFOs and compared to a group of 20 DMD patients who had TA (group II) or TA and iliotibial band (ITB) surgical resection (group III). TA range after casting was reduced at least to plantargrade/neutral in 8 of the 9 patients studied although patients who had surgery had better correction of TA angles. The mean interval between rehabilitation and loss of standing ability with KAFOs was only minimally different among the three groups 1.8 years (9 months-2.8 years) in group I, 2 years (1 month-4.3 years) in group II, 1.9 years (6 months-4.7 years) in group III. The results of this pilot study suggest that serial casting of the TAs can be considered in DMD patients with moderate TA contractures and in whom there are no significant iliotibial band (ITB) tightness, although this intervention is probably not as effective as surgery in maintaining long-term TA range. This procedure may therefore be considered both in patients with medical contraindication to surgery, and also in patients or families who are not prepared to cope with the stress and discomfort of TA surgery.

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