Asymmetries in Gait and Balance Control After Ankle Arthrodesis

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Previous gait analysis studies of patients with an ankle arthrodesis have reported increased motion in the adjacent joints. However, of similar importance are the forces that act on the ipsi- and contralateral joints and the effect of ankle arthrodesis with regard to balance control. The purpose of the present study was to determine the joint moments and the amount of asymmetrical loading of the ankle and joints adjacent to the ankle in patients after successful ankle arthrodesis. Therefore, 8 patients with a painless ankle fusion were included and assessed using 4 functional tests: preferred and fast speed walking, a sit-to-stand test, and a balance test. The ground reaction force and ankle joint moment were smaller in the fused ankle. During the balance on foam test, the velocity of the center of pressure was significantly larger on the contralateral extremity. In conclusion, ankle arthrodesis leads to small asymmetries in joint moments during gait, indicating greater loading of the contralateral ankle. In addition, the unaffected leg compensates for the operated leg in balance control. Because of the small alterations, overuse of the contralateral ankle is not expected after ankle arthrodesis.Level of Clinical Evidence: 3

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