Early rehabilitation treatment combined with equinovarus foot deformity surgical correction in stroke patients: Safety and changes in gait parameters

Erika Giannotti, Andrea Merlo, Paolo Zerbinati, Maria Longhi, Paolo Pratt, Stefano Masiero, Davide Mazzoli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Equinovarus foot deformity (EVFD) compromises several prerequisites of walking and increases the risk of falling. Guidelines on rehabilitation following EVFD surgery are missing in current literature. AIM: The aim of this study was to analyze safety and adherence to an early rehabilitation treatment characterized by immediate weight bearing with an ankle-foot orthosis (AFO) in hemiplegic patients after EVFD surgery and to describe gait changes after EVFD surgical correction combined with early rehabilitation treatment DESIGN: Retrospective observational cohort study. SETTING: Inpatient rehabilitation clinic. POPULATION: Forty-seven adult patients with hemiplegia consequent to ischemic or haemorrhagic stroke (L/R 20/27, age 56±15 years, time from lesion 6±5 years). METHODS: A specific rehabilitation protocol with a non-articulated AFO, used to allow for immediate gait training, started one day after EVFD surgery. Gait analysis (GA) data before and one month after surgery were analyzed. The presence of differences in GA space-time parameters, in ankle dorsiflexion (DF) values and peaks at initial contact (DF at IC), during stance (DF at St) and swing (DF at Sw) were assessed by the Wilcoxon Test while the presence of correlations between pre- and post-operative values by Spearman's correlation coefficient. RESULTS: All patients completed the rehabilitation protocol and no clinical complications occurred in the sample. Ankle DF increased one month after surgery at all investigated gait phases (Wilcoxon Test, P<0.0001), becoming neutral at IC. Significant (P<0.05) variations were found for stride length, stride width, anterior step length of the affected side and for the duration of the double support phase of the contralateral side. The postsurgery ankle DF at St was found to be correlated (R=0.81, P<0.0001) with its pre-surgery value, thus being predictable. Weaker significant correlations were found for DF at Sw and DF at IC, where contribution from the dorsiflexor muscles is required in addition to calf muscle passive lengthening. CONCLUSIONS: An orthosis-assisted immediate rehabilitation associated with surgical procedure is safe and may be suitable to correct EVFD by restoring both the neutral heel foot-ground contact and the ankle DF peaks during stance and swing at one month from surgery. CLINICAL REHABILITATION IMPACT: The proposed protocol is a safe and potentially useful rehabilitative approach after EVFD surgical correction in stroke patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)296-303
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Journal of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1 2016


  • Foot deformities
  • Gait
  • Rehabilitation
  • Stroke
  • Surgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


Dive into the research topics of 'Early rehabilitation treatment combined with equinovarus foot deformity surgical correction in stroke patients: Safety and changes in gait parameters'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this