Sarah Elizabeth Hollis



Download Project (3.6 MB)


Mobility impairments are reported as the most debilitating symptoms for individuals with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Fatigue, a major symptom of MS, further affects mobility. Ankle-foot orthoses (AFOs) are one potential solution to alleviate some of these mobility impairments; however, the effectiveness of AFOs for individuals with MS are currently inconclusive and have known downfalls. We took a comprehensive look at both carbon fiber and polypropylene AFOs to gain an understanding of the immediate effects of AFOs for individuals with MS. In collaboration with the University of Dayton’s Doctorate of Physical Therapy Program, data was collected for 10 participants on various balance, gait, and strength/fatigue assessments. Overall, no significant differences existed between the baseline, carbon, or plastic AFO conditions for any assessment outcome (p>0.05); however trends did arise within the static and dynamic balance task results. Many outcome parameters varied among participants, suggesting the importance of individual responses to AFOs and patient preferences in prescribing AFOs. The majority of participants preferred the carbon AFO. All AFOs were off-the-shelf with only slight adjustments to account for fit and alleviate any pain, AFO tuning is believed to help optimize the efficiency of AFOs by adjusting the angle of the shank during midstance and the stiffness of the footplate. The next step in this work is to investigate the effects of AFO tuning in collaboration with area clinical partners. A case study is currently underway to give insight and better understanding to the effects of AFO tuning.

Publication Date


Project Designation

Independent Research

Primary Advisor

Kim E. Bigelow, Kurt J. Jackson

Primary Advisor's Department

Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering


Stander Symposium project

Moving towards tuning of ankle-foot orthoses: The influence of carbon and plastic AFOs for individuals with Multiple Sclerosis