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Disabil Rehabil Assist Technol. 2012 Nov;7(6):437-49. doi: 10.3109/17483107.2012.680940. Epub 2012 Apr 25.

Ankle-foot orthotic management in neuromuscular disorders: recommendations for future research.

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Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.



To describe research evidence supporting clinical recommendations for ankle-foot orthotic (AFO) prescription and examine common limitations in current research among individuals with stroke and cerebral palsy.


Three databases and one journal website were searched for articles reporting AFO interventions on gait and functional mobility outcome measures in participants with stroke or cerebral palsy. The International Society for Prosthetics and Orthotics (ISPO) best practice recommendations from consensus conferences were reviewed. Data extracted from the articles include participant characteristics, AFO intervention details, evaluation methods, and outcome measures.


Sixty articles were included; twenty-seven on stroke and thirty-three on cerebral palsy participants. Many articles reported insufficient detail on severity of lower limb impairment. Type of interventions included nineteen nonarticulating AFO studies, twelve articulating AFO studies and twenty-three studies testing both. Confounding factors, such as compliance, activity level and footwear, need to be considered in longitudinal studies.


Most studies demonstrated improvement in walking speed and ankle dorsiflexion, whereas the indirect effect on knee stability remains unclear. Future research needs to provide detailed information on type and severity of lower limb impairment of participants and design features of the AFO intervention.

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