Dynamic ankle-foot orthoses as a part of treatment in children with spastic diplegia — parents' perceptions

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Background and PurposeDynamic ankle-foot orthoses (DAFOs) are often recommended for children with spastic diplegia in order to facilitate better function. The aim of the present study was to explore how the parents of children with diplegic cerebral palsy experience the use of DAFOs.MethodA qualitative interview study with a broad research question: ‘How do you perceive that DAFOs influence your child?’ The parents of 15 children, aged 4–18 years, who all had spastic diplegia and wore DAFOs were interviewed.ResultsContent analysis resulted in the following categories: ‘Physical effects’; ‘New functions and activities’; ‘The orthosis as a part of the treatment’; ‘Opportunity for independence and play’; and ‘Problems with DAFOs’. According to the parents, DAFOs appeared to contribute to the (mechanical) changes in posture affecting the muscular system. They meant that when wearing DAFOs the foot and ankle are more stable. This in turn enables postural control and alignment, contributing to functional activities under more favourable physiological conditions. The psychosocial effects were regarded by parents as being just as important as the physical effects.ConclusionIn clinical practice, DAFOs may (according to parents) be regarded as a suitable complement to other treatments in children with diplegic cerebral palsy.

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