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Splint Adapted by Trust Helps Patients With Cerebral Palsy

Splint Adapted by Trust Helps Patients With Cerebral Palsy

Date of release: 3 July 2020

An innovative design for patients who have Cerebral Palsy has been developed by a clinical lead from The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust.

Dr Nicky Eddison, who is Orthotics Service Manager/Clinical Lead at The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust, adapted a splint that changed the angle between the ankle and the foot, following an extensive PhD study.

This means the patient use up to 33 per cent less energy to walk, therefore increasing the amount they can travel and reducing the time it takes.

In the study, conducted by Dr Eddison and the Clinical Biomechanics team at Staffordshire University, researchers examined the effectiveness of tuning the splint-footwear combination, using clinical trials with families in the West Midlands.

Dr Eddison said: “Our research shows the appropriate design and tailoring of splints can reduce the energy used by children with Cerebral Palsy while increasing their speed and distance, compared with a splint which is not fine-tuned. This could have a significant impact on their quality of life.”

Nachi Chockalingam, Professor of Clinical Biomechanics, from Staffordshire University, said: “Children with cerebral palsy use more energy to walk, and our team have found fine-tuning splints to suit their individual needs can make a huge difference to their overall mobility.”

Robert Hayfield, 15, from Wolverhampton, has tried out the adapted footwear and splints. He said: “Wearing the splint, I feel like I have more energy and I can walk for longer than before. It keeps my foot at a 90-degree angle which supports my walking. When I first remember wearing a splint, I felt different to other people, but now I just feel like it’s normal for me.”

Dr Eddison asked children their opinions on wearing the biomechanically-optimised splints. The children reported they ‘walked better in their Ankle Foot Orthosis, with ‘fewer falls’ and ‘improved balance’.

Dr Eddison, who has been with the Trust for 13 years, added: “Using less energy to walk allows children to play with their friends longer and take part in activities they would not otherwise have the energy to do.”

As Senior Research Fellow at Staffordshire University, Dr Eddison is now continuing her research on orthotics. She is currently working on a project looking at immobilisation of the cervical spine following trauma, using orthotics


Notes to Editor

  • Dr Eddison’s innovation has been received internationally, including a response from a clinician at a large rehabilitation hospital in Chicago, Illinois. Don McGovern, from the Shirley Ryan Ability Lab, formally the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, said her work has changed the way they have assessed and treated their patients who require AFOs. Her work has also been published in international peer-reviewed journals - Research Publications

  • For further information, please call Tim Nash on 01902 447297 or email tim.nash2@nhs.net

Press release issued by the Communications team. For more information contact the team on 01902 442600

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