This exploratory study assessed postural control and muscle activity in children with cerebral palsy while standing barefoot (BF), in prescribed ankle-foot orthoses (AFOs) and in distal control orthoses (DCOs), which stabilized foot-ankle and deliberately aligned the shank.
This within-subject study evaluated 10 participants, Gross Motor Functional Classification System level III, across the 3 ankle-foot conditions in: (1) static standing duration and (2) modified Clinical Test of Sensory Interaction on Balance with electromyography (EMG) on 7 muscles.
Participants had significantly decreased center of gravity (COG) velocity sway in DCO versus BF and AFO, decreased loss of balance (LOB), and increased standing for DCO versus BF. DCO had minimal effect on EMG activity.
DCO provided significant stabilizing effects on COG sway velocity, standing duration, and LOB. DCO may be effective in balance training. It is unclear whether benefit was derived from stabilization of the ankle joint, the resultant shank alignment, or both.