Hallux valgus (HV) is associated with poorer performance during gait and balance tasks and is an independent risk factor for falls in older adults. We sought to assess whether corrective HV surgery improves gait and balance.
Using a cross-sectional study design, gait and static balance data were obtained from 40 adults: 19 patients with HV only (preoperative group), 10 patients who recently underwent successful HV surgery (postoperative group), and 11 control participants. Assessments were made in the clinic using body-worn sensors.
Patients in the preoperative group generally demonstrated poorer static balance control compared with the other two groups. Despite similar age and body mass index, postoperative patients exhibited 29% and 63% less center of mass sway than preoperative patients during double-and single-support balance assessments, respectively (analysis of variance P =.17 and P =.14, respectively [both eyes open condition]). Overall, gait performance was similar among the groups, except for speed during gait initiation, where lower speeds were encountered in the postoperative group compared with the preoperative group (Scheffe P = .049).
This study provides supportive evidence regarding the benefits of corrective lower-extremity surgery on certain aspects of balance control. Patients seem to demonstrate early improvements in static balance after corrective HV surgery, whereas gait improvements may require a longer recovery time. Further research using a longitudinal study design and a larger sample size capable of assessing the long-term effects of HV surgical correction on balance and gait is probably warranted. (J Am Podiatr Med Assoc 103(6): 489–497, 2013)
Diabetes-related foot ulcers are a leading cause of global morbidity, mortality, and health-care costs. People with a history of foot ulcers have a diminished quality of life attributed to limited walking and mobility. One of the largest concerns is ulceration recurrence. Approximately 40% of patients with ulcerations will have a recurrent ulcer in the year after healing, and most occur in the first 3 months after wound healing. Hence, this period after ulceration is called “remission” due to this risk of reulceration. Promoting and fostering mobility is an integral part of everyday life and is important for maintaining good physical health and health-related quality of life for all people living with diabetes. In this short perspective, we provide recommendations on how to safely increase walking activity and facilitate appropriate off-loading and monitoring in people with a recently healed foot ulcer, foot reconstruction, or partial foot amputation. Interventions include monitored activity training, dosed out in steadily increasing increments and coupled with daily skin temperature monitoring, which can identify dangerous “hotspots” prone to recurrence. By understanding areas at risk, patients are empowered to maximize ulcer-free days and to enable an improved quality of life. This perspective outlines a unified strategy to treat patients in the remission period after ulceration and aims to provide clinicians with appropriate patient recommendations based on best available evidence and expert opinion to educate their patients to ensure a safe transition to footwear and return to activity.
Individuals with diabetic peripheral neuropathy frequently experience concomitant impaired proprioception and postural instability. Conventional exercise training has been demonstrated to be effective in improving balance but does not incorporate visual feedback targeting joint perception, which is an integral mechanism that helps compensate for impaired proprioception in diabetic peripheral neuropathy.
This prospective cohort study recruited 29 participants (mean ± SD: age, 57 ± 10 years; body mass index [calculated as weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared], 26.9 ± 3.1). Participants satisfying the inclusion criteria performed predefined ankle exercises through reaching tasks, with visual feedback from the ankle joint projected on a screen. Ankle motion in the mediolateral and anteroposterior directions was captured using wearable sensors attached to the participant’s shank. Improvements in postural stability were quantified by measuring center of mass sway area and the reciprocal compensatory index before and after training using validated body-worn sensor technology.
Findings revealed a significant reduction in center of mass sway after training (mean, 22%; P = .02). A higher postural stability deficit (high body sway) at baseline was associated with higher training gains in postural balance (reduction in center of mass sway) (r = −0.52, P < .05). In addition, significant improvement was observed in postural coordination between the ankle and hip joints (mean, 10.4%; P = .04).
The present research implemented a novel balance rehabilitation strategy based on virtual reality technology. The method included wearable sensors and an interactive user interface for real-time visual feedback based on ankle joint motion, similar to a video gaming environment, for compensating impaired joint proprioception. These findings support that visual feedback generated from the ankle joint coupled with motor learning may be effective in improving postural stability in patients with diabetic peripheral neuropathy. (J Am Podiatr Med Assoc 103(6): 498–507, 2013)
Despite sufficient evidence to suggest that lower-limb–related factors may contribute to fall risk in older adults, lower-limb and footwear influences on fall risk have not been systematically summarized for readers and clinicians. The purpose of this study was to systematically review and synethesize the literature related to lower-limb, foot, and footwear factors that may increase the risk of falling among community-dwelling older adults.
We searched PubMed, Embase, PsycINFO, CINAHL, Web of Science, Cochrane Library, and AgeLine. To describe the trajectory toward increasing risk of falls, we examined those articles that linked age-related changes in the lower limb or footwear to prospective falls or linked them to evidenced-based fall risk factors, such as gait and balance impairment.
This systematic review consisted of 81 articles that met the review criteria, and the results reflect a narrative review of the appraised literature for eight pathways of lower-limb–related influences on fall risk in older adults. Six of the eight pathways support a direct link to fall risk. Two other pathways link to the intermediate factors but lack studies that provide evidence of a direct link.
This review provides strong guidance to advance understanding and assist with managing the link between lower-limb factors and falls in older adults. Due to the lack of literature in specific areas, some recommendations were based on observational studies and should be applied with caution until further research can be completed.