One intervention often used to address physical impairments post stroke is an ankle–foot orthosis. Ankle–foot orthoses may improve walking speed, stride length, and gait pattern. However, effects on balance, crucial for safe ambulation, are thus far inconclusive. One aspect of balance shown to contribute to functional ability is self-efficacy. Self-efficacy, defined as the belief in one’s ability to succeed in particular situations, has been shown to be more strongly associated with activity and participation (as defined by the International Classification of Functioning, Disability, and Health) than physical performance measures of gait or balance.
We investigated whether self-efficacy, or balance confidence when referred to in the context of balance capabilities, is improved with ankle–foot orthosis use.
Repeated measures study design.
Balance confidence was measured using the Activities-specific Balance Confidence Scale in 15 persons with chronic poststroke hemiplegia, with and without their regular ankle–foot orthosis.
Activities-specific Balance Confidence Scale scores were significantly higher ( p ≤ 0.01) for the ankle–foot orthosis condition compared to no ankle–foot orthosis.
One mechanism by which ankle–foot orthosis use may influence balance is improved balance confidence. Future work should explore the specific mechanisms underlying this improvement in self-efficacy.
Self-efficacy may be an important factor to consider when evaluating functioning post stroke. Rehabilitative interventions that improve balance confidence may help restore participation and overall functioning in pathological populations, particularly in the fall-prone poststroke population. Study results provide evidence for improvements in balance confidence with ankle–foot orthosis use.