Can You Help with a Local Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Foot Drop Study?

A team of physiotherapists from the Douglas Grant Rehabilitation centre at NHS Ayrshire & Arran is carrying out a research study into the current treatments available to people with MS who have a foot drop.

The research is being carried out on people who are known to MS Services in NHS Ayrshire & Arran, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, NHS Lanarkshire, NHS Dumfries and Galloway, NHS Lothian, NHS Fife, and NHS Tayside.

Linda Renfrew, Consultant Physiotherapist in MS explains: “Foot drop happens when the muscles of the ankle are weak. This can cause the foot to drag and can cause people with MS to trip while walking.

“We are researching two main types of treatment available, ankle foot orthosis and functional electrical stimulation, to find out what the effects are and how they benefit patients.”
An ankle foot orthosis (AFO) is a plastic splint, which goes down the back of the leg and under the foot. It holds the angle in an L-shape and fits into the shoe, keeping the foot up, reducing tripping.

Functional electrical stimulation (FES) is a medical device that stimulates the nerve at the side of the lower part of the leg and contracts the muscle at the outside of the leg to help the foot. The timing of the foot lift is triggered by a foot switch placed in the heel of the shoe, so that the muscle is stimulated when the foot is off the ground, helping you to lift the foot and reduce tripping.

Linda adds: “This study will look at what effect AFO and FES have on how fast you walk and how much energy you use. It will also look at how these treatments affect your tiredness, your physical activity and the impact each of them have on your life in general.”

Patients involved in the study are over 18 years old, have been diagnosed with MS, have persistent or fatigable foot drop over the last three months due to their MS, and are able to walk for five minutes at a comfortable pace without stopping.

The study is being funded by the MS Society with support from Glasgow Caledonian University, the University of Glasgow, and the University of Strathclyde, and will last until 2018.
If you would like to find out more information about the study and about how you could be involved, please email Linda Renfrew at [email protected], or call her on 01294 323057

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