Purpose: To compare the effects of a leaf spring ankle-foot orthosis (LAFO) and a hinged AFO with plantar flexion stop with that of shoe only on weight-bearing and function in children with hemiplegia.
Methods: The study used an experimental single-subject alternating treatment design with replication. Outcomes measured were weight-bearing symmetry, weight-bearing on the hemiplegic rear foot compared with that of the forefoot, functional ability, and child and parent preference.
Results: Both AFOs increased relative contact area of the hemiplegic foot. The LAFO increased relative force through the hemiplegic foot. There was increased pressure through the rear foot, time spent on the rear foot, and force through the forefoot. Rear foot contact area increased in the LAFO. Neither AFO affected function. Patient preference for AFO condition was inconsistent.
Conclusion: Both AFOs increased weight-bearing through the hemiplegic foot and rear foot, indicative of potential benefit to growth. Neither the LAFO nor the hinged AFO with plantar flexion stop improved function of the children.