The Effect of Dynamic Ankle Foot Orthoses on Function in Children With Cerebral Palsy

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Dynamic ankle-foot orthoses (DAFOs), with free plantarflexion, are frequently prescribed to facilitate the gross motor skills of children with cerebral palsy. Employing a randomized crossover design, this project documents the short-term effect of DAFOs in 23 ambulatory children with cerebral palsy aged 1.9 to 7.3 years. Significant improvements in crawling/kneeling, standing, and walking/running and jumping skills, as measured by using the Gross Motor Function Measure (GMFM) 88 and 66, were documented (P < 0.001). Increased motor skills with the use of DAFOs were mildly correlated with the leg length of the participants. Increasing age was negatively correlated with standing skill improvement while wearing the DAFOs. Young children who are independent walkers seem to benefit greater from the DAFOs with free plantarflexion than do children using assistive devices. Future research needs to clarify the long-term influence of the use of DAFOs on gross motor skill acquisition in young children with cerebral palsy.

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