The Impact of a Foot-Toe Orthosis on Dynamic Balance: An Exploratory Randomized Control Trial

in Journal of Sport Rehabilitation
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Context: The influence of custom and over-the-counter foot orthoses on dynamic balance has been investigated in the past. However, there has not been an exploration of the use of a foot-toe orthosis for improving balance. The ability of clinicians to influence balance could have important implications for injury prevention and rehabilitation. Objective: To determine the impact of a foot-toe orthosis on dynamic balance in healthy, young adults. Design: Randomized control trial. Setting: Athletic training laboratory. Participants: In total, 64 healthy, recreationally active participants aged 18–29 years were randomly allocated to one of the following groups: the foot-toe orthosis and laboratory-issued shoe group, the laboratory-issued shoe only (SO) group, or the control group. Interventions: Subjects in the intervention group wore the foot-toe orthosis and laboratory-issued shoe with activities of daily living for 4 weeks. Subjects in the SO intervention group wore the laboratory-issued shoe with activities of daily living for 4 weeks. Participants in the control group did not receive any intervention. Main Outcome Measures: The instrumented version of the Star Excursion Balance Test, known as the Lower Quarter Y-Balance Test, was used to quantify the dynamic balance at baseline and follow-up. Reaches were normalized for leg length. Results: There were statistically significant differences in postintervention scores on the Lower Quarter Y-Balance Test for both the dominant (P = .03, effect size = 0.84; 95% confidence interval, 0.25 to 1.43) and nondominant (P = .002, effect size = 0.74; 95% confidence interval, 0.15 to 1.32) legs when comparing dynamic balance scores of the foot-toe orthosis and laboratory-issued shoe group with the SO and control groups. No significant differences were observed when comparing dynamic balance between the SO and control groups. Conclusions: A 4-week intervention with a foot-toe orthosis and laboratory-issued shoe resulted in improved dynamic balance in a healthy young adult population. These findings suggest a novel intervention for increasing balance.

Kelly and Stanek are with the School of Kinesiology and Recreation, Illinois State University, Normal, IL, USA. Kelly is also with Probility Physical Therapy, Ann Arbor, MI, USA.

Kelly (Adam.Kelly@stjoeshealth.org) is corresponding author.
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