Background: Orthoses need to support physiotherapy as well as surgical treatment. Related to patient’s rehabilitative goals and pathological gait pattern, orthotists have to produce an orthoses that using an adjustable ankle joint system with preloaded disc springs can store the energy brought in by the body weight and produce a tuning effect on patient’s gait and sense of balance.The purpose of this study was to establish how a personalized proprioceptive individualized rehabilitative treatment could influence the functional response of different AFOs (Ankle Foot Orthoses) in a cohort of patients affected by neurological gait pattern.
Methods: Five patients affected by different neurological gait pattern and volunteered to participate to this study were recruited. The comparative spatio-temporal and functional effect on gait pattern of 3 types of AFOs was investigated under 4 study conditions: 1) without AFO or free-walk (FW); 2) wearing a Codivilla spring, 3) wearing a carbon unjointed AFO (“Toe-Off”); 4) wearing an innovative carbon-kevlar dynamic joint DAFO (DAFONS=Dynamic Ankle Foot Orthoses with Neuroswing). In line with our rehabilitative model, patients underwent to a weekly treatment session, 80 minutes duration per session, for 4 weeks. Evaluation was made before (time T3=time of recruitment) and after our individualized rehabilitative treatment course (time T4=1 month from T3) by using: a. G-Walk sensor (by BTS) spatio-temporal measures in different gait performances; b. clinical/functional outcome measures (Modified Ashworth Scale or MAS for the affected upper and lower limb; Medical Research Council or MRC; orthostatic stability evaluation by using the Berg Balance Scale or BBS).
Findings: A comparative analysis of clinical and instrumental data, performed in the pre-defined four investigational conditions, showed:
√ a statistical insignificant change of MRC and MAS scales at time T4, with a significance trend outcome observed at the same time by using the Wilcoxon Signed Rank Test
√ a statistical significant difference between test duration (sec) by using Toe-Off vs DAFONS and by using Codivilla spring vs Toe-Off
√ a statistical significant increase of the stride length on the left side (% cycle length) by using DAFONS compared to Toe-Off for patient P1, P3 and P5 with a parameter decrease by using DAFONS compared to Codivilla spring and Toe-Off use for patient P2
√ a statistical significant correlation between BBS trend and test duration (sec) by using Codivilla spring at time T3 and T4
√ in a comparative post-treatment visual gait analysis a modification of each patient’s static and dynamic postural assessment by using 3 different types of orthoses
Interpretation: In line with our study design we noted at the end of the proposed rehabilitative treatment an amelioration of gait quality with the use of DAFONS in all those patients (P1, P3 and P5) who showed a neurocognitive competence with a related functional grade of neurorehabilitative re-learning attitude of the physiological gait pattern and with a compromised perceptive control of gait and core stability. The proprioceptive profile of our rehabilitative program could promote the pro-adaptive and facilitation properties of a personalized gait control, induced by an innovative dynamic ankle foot orthoses with a modulable ankle joint system called Neuroswing. In the daily clinical practice, the personalized integration of a neurorehabilitative program and DAFONS can perform an individualized peripheral neuro-facilitation of gait cycle (peripheral perceptive facilitation), a neurorehabilitative re-learning process of physiological gait pattern (peripheral assisted neuroplasticity facilitation DAFONS induced) and an increase of patient’s motor abilities and quality of life in all daily performances.