Objective: To compare the clinical- and cost-effectiveness of ankle-foot orthoses (AFOs) and functional electrical stimulation (FES) over 12 months in people with Multiple Sclerosis with foot drop. Design: Multicentre, powered, non-blinded, randomized trial. Setting: Seven Multiple Sclerosis outpatient centres across Scotland. Subjects: Eighty-five treatment-naïve people with Multiple Sclerosis with persistent (>three months) foot drop. Interventions: Participants randomized to receive a custom-made, AFO (n = 43) or FES device (n = 42). Outcome measures: Assessed at 0, 3, 6 and 12 months; 5-minute self-selected walk test (primary), Timed 25 Foot Walk, oxygen cost of walking, Multiple Sclerosis Impact Scale-29, Multiple Sclerosis Walking Scale-12, Modified Fatigue Impact Scale, Euroqol five-dimension five-level questionnaire, Activities-specific Balance and Confidence Scale, Psychological Impact of Assistive Devices Score, and equipment and National Health Service staff time costs of interventions. Results: Groups were similar for age (AFO, 51.4 (11.2); FES, 50.4(10.4) years) and baseline walking speed (AFO, 0.62 (0.21); FES 0.73 (0.27) m/s). In all, 38% dropped out by 12 months (AFO, n = 21; FES, n = 11). Both groups walked faster at 12 months with device (P < 0.001; AFO, 0.73 (0.24); FES, 0.79 (0.24) m/s) but no difference between groups. Significantly higher Psychological Impact of Assistive Devices Scores were found for FES for Competence (P = 0.016; AFO, 0.85(1.05); FES, 1.53(1.05)), Adaptability (P = 0.001; AFO, 0.38(0.97); FES 1.53 (0.98)) and Self-Esteem (P = 0.006; AFO, 0.45 (0.67); FES 1 (0.68)). Effects were comparable for other measures. FES may offer value for money alternative to usual care. Conclusion: AFOs and FES have comparable effects on walking performance and patient-reported outcomes; however, high drop-outs introduces uncertainty.
- functional electrical stimulation
- Multiple Sclerosis
- patient-centred outcome measure