The effects of ankle supports on gait in adults: A randomized cross-over study.
Keene DJ., Willett K., Lamb SE.
We aimed to compare the effects of different ankle supports used after ankle injury/surgery on temporo-spatial gait characteristics. We conducted a randomized cross-over study including adult participants with no previous lower limb or neurological pathology, who underwent gait analysis on an electronic walkway in three different ankle supports, Tubigrip(®), a stirrup brace and a walker boot. The 18 participants were an average age of 42 (SD 13, range 24-62) years and 14 (88%) were female. Compared to Tubigrip(®), gait in the walker boot was slower (-0.19 m/s, 95%CI -0.23 to -0.16, P < 0.001), step length asymmetry was 10% (95%CI 9-12, P < 0.001) worse, single support time asymmetry was 5% (95%CI 3-7, P < 0.001) worse and participants also adopted a wider step width (4.1 cm, 95%CI 3.7-4.5, P < 0.001). There were no important differences in gait between the Tubigrip(®) and stirrup brace. The findings of this study suggest that there is a limit to the degree of normal walking characteristics in a walker boot in the absence of lower limb impairment. Further research is required to directly compare the effects of these ankle supports in clinical populations.