Effect of long-term use of ankle-foot orthoses on tibialis anterior muscle electromyography in patients with sub-acute stroke: A randomized controlled trial

Corien Nikamp (Corresponding Author), Jaap Buurke, Leendert Schaake, Job van der Palen, Johan Rietman, Hermie Hermens

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Objective: To determine: (i) whether the use of ankle-foot orthoses over a period of 26 weeks affects tibialis anterior muscle activity; (ii) whether the timing of provision of ankle-foot orthoses (early or delayed) affects the results; (iii) whether the provision of ankle-foot orthoses affects tibialis anterior muscle activity within a single measurement.
Design: Randomized controlled trial.
Subjects: Unilateral hemiparetic subjects, a maximum of 6 weeks post-stroke.
Methods: Subjects were assigned randomly to early (at inclusion; week 1) or delayed provision of ankle-foot orthoses (8 weeks later; week 9). Tibialis anterior electromyography was measured with and without ankle-foot orthoses, in study weeks 1, 9, 17 and 26.
Results: A total of 26 subjects were analysed. In a single measurement, use of an ankle-foot orthosis significantly reduced the activity levels of the tibialis anterior muscle during the swing phase (p = 0.041) compared with walking without an ankle-foot or-thosis. During the 26-week follow-up, no changes were found in tibialis anterior muscle activity in the swing phase without an ankle-foot orthosis, both within-groups (p = 0.420 early; p = 0.282 delayed), and between-groups (p = 0.987). After 26 weeks, no differences were found in tibialis anterior muscle activity between both groups in the swing phase, with (p = 0.207) or without ankle-foot orthoses (p = 0.310).
Conclusion: Use of ankle-foot orthoses post-stroke reduced tibialis anterior muscle activity in the swing phase within 1 measurement; however, long-term use of ankle-foot orthoses for 26 weeks did not affect such activity. Early or delayed provision of ankle-foot orthoses did not affect the findings. The results indicate that there is no need to fear negative consequences on tibialis anterior-activity because of long-term AFO-use (early) after stroke.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11-17
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of rehabilitation medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019


  • ankle-foot orthosis
  • stroke rehabilitation
  • muscle electromyography
  • tibialis anterior
  • long-term effects
  • timing of provision
  • randomized controlled trial

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