Study results published in the January 2012 issue of Physical Therapy conclude the use of a hip flexion assist orthosis (HFAO) can improve gait in patients with post-stroke hemiparesis, particularly those with more severe walking impairment.
The main outcome measures were the ten-meter walk test and the six-minute walk test. Patients were also evaluated with the Trunk Control Test, Functional Ambulation Categories, Motricity Index, and hip flexor strength on the Medical Research Council scale. Sixty-two stroke survivors were tested in random order with and without the orthosis. Both the six-minute walk test and the ten-meter walk test improved with the use of the orthosis (p<0.0001). According to the study, a significant negative correlation was noticed between the improvement in the two main outcome measures with the orthosis and the Functional Ambulation Categories. The improvement in the six-minute walk test with the orthosis was inversely related to hip flexor strength.