Six-Minute Walk Test Performance in Persons With Multiple Sclerosis While Using Passive or Powered Ankle-Foot Orthoses

Published:August 01, 2017DOI:



      To determine whether a powered ankle-foot orthosis (AFO) that provides dorsiflexor and plantar flexor assistance at the ankle can improve walking endurance of persons with multiple sclerosis (MS).


      Short-term intervention.


      University research laboratory.


      Participants (N=16) with a neurologist-confirmed diagnosis of MS and daily use of a prescribed custom unilateral passive AFO.


      Three 6-minute walk tests (6MWTs), 1 per footwear condition: shoes (no AFO), prescribed passive AFO, and portable powered AFO (PPAFO). Assistive devices were worn on the impaired limb.

      Main Outcome Measures

      Distance walked and metabolic cost of transport were recorded during each 6MWT and compared between footwear conditions.


      Each participant completed all three 6MWTs within the experimental design. PPAFO use resulted in a shorter 6MWT distance than did a passive AFO or shoe use. No differences were observed in metabolic cost of transport between footwear conditions.


      The current embodiment of this PPAFO did not improve endurance walking performance during the 6MWT in a sample of participants with gait impairment due to MS. Further research is required to determine whether expanded training or modified design of this powered orthosis can be effective in improving endurance walking performance in persons with gait impairment due to MS.


      List of abbreviations:

      6MWT (6-minute walk test), AFO (ankle-foot orthosis), ANOVA (analysis of variance), CoT (metabolic cost of transport), MS (multiple sclerosis), PPAFO (portable powered ankle-foot orthosis), V˙co2 (carbon dioxide consumption per unit time), V˙o2 (oxygen consumption per unit time)
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