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Am J Phys Med Rehabil. 2010 May;89(5):369-75. doi: 10.1097/PHM.0b013e3181d89861.

Do ankle orthoses improve ankle proprioceptive thresholds or unipedal balance in older persons with peripheral neuropathy?

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Department of Mechanical Engineering, Biomechanical Research Laboratory, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA.



To determine whether ankle orthoses that provide medial and lateral support, and have been found to decrease gait variability in older persons with peripheral neuropathy, decrease (improve) frontal plane ankle proprioceptive thresholds or increase unipedal stance time in that same population.


Observational study in which unipedal stance time was determined with a stopwatch, and frontal plane ankle (inversion and eversion) proprioceptive thresholds were quantified during bipedal stance using a foot cradle system and a series of 100 rotational stimuli, in 11 older neuropathic subjects (8 men; age 72 +/- 7.1 yr) with and without ankle orthoses.


The subjects demonstrated no change in combined frontal plane (inversion + eversion) proprioceptive thresholds or unipedal stance time with vs. without the orthoses (1.06 +/- 0.56 vs. 1.13 +/- 0.39 degrees, respectively; P = 0.955 and 6.1 +/- 6.5 vs. 6.2 +/- 5.4 secs, respectively; P = 0.922).


Ankle orthoses that provide medial-lateral support do not seem to change ankle inversion/eversion proprioceptive thresholds or unipedal stance time in older persons with diabetic peripheral neuropathy. Previously identified improvements in gait variability using orthoses in this population are therefore likely related to an orthotically induced stiffening of the ankle rather than a change in ankle afferent function.

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