Experiences of functional electrical stimulation (FES) and ankle foot orthoses (AFOs) for foot-drop in people with multiple sclerosis
van der Linden, Marietta
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Bulley, C., Mercer, T., Hooper, J., Cowan, P., Scott, S. & van der Linden, M. (2015) Experiences of functional electrical stimulation (FES) and ankle foot orthoses (AFOs) for foot-drop in people with multiple sclerosis. Disability and Rehabilitation: Assistive Technology, 10(6), pp. 458-467.
Purpose: A constructivist phenomenological study explored impacts of ankle foot orthoses (AFOs) or functional electrical stimulation (FES) on people with foot-drop from multiple sclerosis (MS). Method: Focus groups following topic guides were analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis, with researcher reflexivity, participant verification and peer checking of analysis. Participants with sustained use of the devices (under 2 y) were invited from two quantitative studies that (a) investigated immediate FES effects (n_12) and (b) compared habitual use of AFO (n_7) or FES (n_6). Two focus groups addressed AFO (n_4) and FES (n_6) experiences. Results: Similar numbers of positive and negative aspects were described for AFO and FES. Both reduced fatigue, improved gait, reduced trips and falls, increased participation, and increased confidence; greater balance/stability was reported for AFOs, and increased walking distance, fitness and physical activity for FES. Barriers to both included avoiding reliance on devices and implications for shoes and clothing; a non-normal gait pattern was reported for AFO, and difficulties of application and limitations in the design of FES. However, participants felt the positives outweighed the negatives. Conclusions: Participants felt benefits outweighed the drawbacks for AFO and FES; greater understanding of user preferences and satisfaction may increase likelihood of usage and efficacy.