Project Description

Giannotti E, Merlo A, Zerbinati P, Longhi M, Prati P, Masiero S, Mazzoli D. Early rehabilitation treatment combined with equino varus foot deformity surgical correction in stroke patients: safety and changes in gait parameters.

Eur J Phys Rehabil Med. 2015 Dec 1.

[Epub ahead of print]


BACKGROUND: Equino varus foot deformity (EVFD), compromises several prerequisites of walking and increases the risk of falling. Guidelines on rehabilitation following EVFD surgery are missing in current literature.
AIM: To analyze safety and adherence to an early rehabilitation treatment characterized by immediate weight bearing with an ankle-foot orthosis (AFO) in hemiplegic patients after EVFD surgery and to describe gait changes after EVFD surgical correction combined with early rehabilitation treatment DESIGN: Retrospective observational cohort study.
SETTING:Inpatient rehabilitation clinic.
POPULATION: 47 adult patients with hemiplegia consequent to ischemic or haemorrhagic stroke (L/R 20/27, age 56+/-15 years, time from lesion 6 +/- 5 years).
METHODS: A specific rehabilitation protocol with a non-articulated AFO, used to allow for immediate gait training, started one day after EVFD surgery. Gait analysis (GA) data before and one month after surgery were analyzed. The presence of differences in GA space-time parameters, in ankle dorsiflexion (DF) values and peaks at initial contact (DF@IC), during stance (DF@St) and swing (DF@Sw) were assessed by the Wilcoxon test while the presence of correlations between pre- and post-operative values by Spearman’s correlation coefficient.
RESULTS: All patients completed the rehabilitation protocol and no clinical complications occurred in the sample. Ankle DF increased one month after surgery at all investigated gait phases (Wilcoxon test, p<0.0001), becoming neutral at IC. Significant (p<0.05) variations were found for stride length, stride width, anterior step length of the affected side and for the duration of the double support phase of the contralateral side. The post-surgery ankle DF@St was found to be correlated (R=0.81, p<0.0001) with its pre-surgery value, thus being predictable. Weaker significant correlations were found for DF@Sw and DF@IC, where contribution from the dorsiflexor muscles is required in addition to calf muscle passive lengthening.
CONCLUSIONS:An orthosis-assisted immediate rehabilitation associated with surgical procedure is safe and may be suitable to correct EVFD by restoring both the neutral heel foot-ground contact and the ankle DF peaks during stance and swing at one month from surgery.
CLINICAL REHABILITATION IMPACT: The proposed protocol is a safe and potentially useful rehabilitative approach after EVFD surgical correction in stroke patients.