A patient-centered ‘test-drive’ strategy for ankle-foot orthosis prescription: Protocol for a randomized participant-blinded trial

Benjamin R. Shuman*, Brad D. Hendershot, David C. Morgenroth, Elizabeth Russell Esposito

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Ankle-foot orthoses (AFOs) are commonly used to overcome mobility limitations related to lower limb musculoskeletal injury. Despite a multitude of AFOs to choose from, there is scant evidence to guide AFO prescription and limited opportunities for AFO users to provide experiential input during the process. To address these limitations in the current prescription process, this study evaluates a novel, user-centered and personalized ‘test-drive’ strategy using a robotic exoskeleton (‘AFO emulator’) to emulate commercial AFO mechanical properties (i.e., stiffness). The study will determine if brief, in-lab trials (with emulated or actual AFOs) can predict longer term preference, satisfaction, and mobility outcomes after community trials (with the actual AFOs). Secondarily, it will compare the in-lab experience of walking between actual vs. emulated AFOs. Methods and analysis :In this participant-blinded, randomized crossover study we will recruit up to fifty-eight individuals with lower limb musculoskeletal injuries who currently use an AFO. Participants will walk on a treadmill with three actual AFOs and corresponding emulated AFOs for the "in-lab” assessments. For the community trial assessment, participants will wear each of the actual AFOs for a two-week period during activities of daily living. Performance-based and user-reported measures of preference and mobility will be compared between short- and long-term trials (i.e., in-lab vs. two-week community trials), and between in-lab trials (emulated vs. actual AFOs). Trial registration: The study was prospectively registered at www.clininicaltrials.gov (Clinical Trials Study ID: NCT06113159). Date: November 1st 2023. https://classic.clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/ NCT06113159.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0302389
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number5 May
StatePublished - May 2024
Externally publishedYes


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