, Volume 1, Issue 6, pp 325-332
Date: 01 Nov 2007

The effect of community-prescribed ankle–foot orthoses on gait parameters in children with spastic cerebral palsy

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To evaluate the efficacy of ankle foot orthoses (AFOs) prescribed in the community for children with cerebral palsy (CP).


Fifty-six children (32 boys and 24 girls, mean age 8.9 years, range 4–17) who were diagnosed as having CP were enrolled. They were grouped according to the type of CP, diplegic (n = 38) and hemiplegic (n = 18). Three-dimensional gait analyses while patient were barefoot and with AFOs were obtained and analyzed.


The spatio-temporal findings were the most significantly changed as a result of AFO use. In the hemiplegic group, stride length was 11.7% (p = 0.001) longer with AFOs in both affected (10.2%) and non-affected (12.4%) legs, and cadence was reduced by 9.7%; walking speed was not affected. In the diplegic group, stride length with AFOs was 17.4% longer compared to barefoot (p < 0.001) and walking velocity improved by 17.8% (p < 0.001); cadence was unchanged. AFOs also increased ankle dorsiflexion at initial contact in both groups. In the hemiplegic group, AFOs produced an average 9.4° increase of dorsiflexion at initial contact (IC) on the affected side (p < 0.001) and 5.87° on the unaffected side (p = 0.007), and an increase of 9.9° (p < 0.001) dorsiflexion at swing, on the affected side. In the diplegic group, dorsiflexion at IC was increased by 13.4° on the right side and 7.8° on the left side (p = 0.05; p > 0.001, respectively) and an increase of 6° (p = 0.005) at swing. In the hemiplegic group of patients, knee flexion at initial contact on the affected side was reduced by 8.5° (p = 0.032) while in the diplegic group we found no influence. The number of patients that reached symmetry at initial double support tripled (from 5.6 to 16.7%) with the use of AFOs.


Our results showed that the use of AFOs improves spatio-temporal gait parameters and gait stability in children with spastic cerebral palsy. It has a lesser effect on proximal joint kinematics. Children with spastic hemiplegia display greater improvement than those with spastic diplegia.