Custom Made AFOs Effective in Fall Prevention

The daily use of bilateral custom-made ankle-foot orthoses (AFOs) and walking shoes, in conjunction with a healthy diet and exercise, has been found to be beneficial for older adults with concerns about or at risk of falling, according to a new study by Bijan Najafi, PhD, and his research team at the Baylor College of Medicine.

The researchers conducted a randomized control trial investigating the effectiveness of daily use of a custom-made AFO on balance, fear of falling, and physical activity in the senior population. They developed a protocol involving 44 older adults with fall concerns, with half allocated to an intervention group and the other half to the control group. The intervention group received walking shoes and bilateral custom-made AFOs (Moore Balance Brace); the control group received only walking shoes.

Researchers assessed participant’s balance and physical activity at the baseline and during six-month follow-up visits, using wearable instrumentation and the Fall Efficacy Scale-International assessment tool. While the research team observed no significant differences between the intervention group and the control group at the baseline visits, they measured reductions in hip, ankle, and center-of-mass sways among the intervention group six months later.

Overall, Najafi and his team identified a 55 percent reduction in center-of-mass sway, a 41 percent reduction in hip sway, and a 71 percent reduction in ankle sway among subjects who followed the suggested protocol of diet, exercise, and doctor visits and wore the AFOs. They concluded that the combination of bilateral custom-made AFOs plus walking shoes is effective in improving balance when compared to walking shoes alone and significantly reduces the fear of falling among older adults. The research was published in a recent issue of Gerontology.

Source: O&P Almanac