Development of an Active Ankle Foot Orthosis to Prevent Foot Drop and Toe Drag in Hemiplegic Patients: A Preliminary Study
We developed an active ankle-foot orthosis (AAFO) that controls dorsiflexion/plantarflexion of the ankle joint to prevent foot drop and toe drag during hemiplegic walking. To prevent foot slap after initial contact, the ankle joint must remain active to minimize forefoot collision against the ground. During late stance, the ankle joint must also remain active to provide toe clearance and to aid with push-off. We implemented a series elastic actuator in our AAFO to induce ankle dorsiflexion/plantarflexion. The activator was controlled by signals from force sensing register (FSR) sensors that detected gait events. Three dimensional gait analyses were performed for three hemiplegic patients under three different gait conditions: gait without AFO (NAFO), gait with a conventional hinged AFO that did not control the ankle joint (HAFO), and gait with the newly-developed AFO (AAFO). Our results demonstrate that our newly-developed AAFO not only prevents foot drop by inducing plantarflexion during loading response, but also prevents toe drag by facilitating plantarflexion during pre-swing and dorsiflexion during swing phase, leading to improvement in most temporal-spatial parameters. However, only three hemiplegic patients were included in this gait analysis. Studies including more subjects will be required to evaluate the functionality of our newly developed AAFO.