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Kurt Jackson, PT, phD, CGS
Peripheral neuropathy (PN) is a neurological disorder that involves damage or disease of the peripheral nervous system. Diabetes is one of the most common causes on PN, while another large percentage of cases are idiopathic in nature. Individuals with PN often experience a distal to proximal progression of motor and sensory deficits such as loss of proprioception, muscle weakness, and loss of ankle reflexes. Since lower extremity proprioception plays a primary role in postural control, individuals with PN demonstrate difficulty maintaining balance, especially under conditions in which vision or vestibular input are also compromised. Because of these deficits, individuals with PN demonstrate an increased risk of falling. To improve balance in these individuals, literature suggests that providing additional or alternative sensory cues may enhance postural control. One practical strategy for improving sensory input that has been investigated is the use of orthotics or ankle-foot orthoses (AFO) to augment tactile and proprioceptive input to the foot and lower leg. Significant improvements in both sensory organization and postural motor control have been shown to occur with some commonly used AFOs, however, relatively little is known about how the newer generation carbon composite AFO may positively or negatively influence individuals with PN.
Physical Therapy | Rehabilitation and Therapy
Combs, Holly; Glesey, Tristen; Laux, Renee; Petkewitz, Lucas; and Santoianni, Gina, "The Immediate Effects of Carbon Composite Ankle Foot Orthoses on Balance and Gait in Individuals with Peripheral Neuropathy: A Pilot Study" (2014). University of Dayton Doctor of Physical Therapy Annual Research Symposium. 16.