When is nerve stimulation indicated for the treatment of foot drop?

Updated: Mar 23, 2020
  • Author: James W Pritchett, MD; Chief Editor: Vinod K Panchbhavi, MD, FACS  more...
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When foot drop is due to hemiplegia, peroneal nerve stimulation has potential advantages over an AFO, in that it provides active gait correction and can be tailored to individual patients. A short burst of electrical stimulation is applied to the common peroneal nerve between the popliteal fossa and the fibular head. This burst is controlled by a switch in the heel of the affected limb. The stimulator is activated when the foot is lifted and stopped when the foot contacts the ground. This achieves dorsiflexion and eversion during the swing phase of gait.

In a study by Ring et al, the effects of a radiofrequency-controlled neuroprosthesis were compared with those of a standard AFO in 15 patients with foot drop caused by stroke or traumatic brain injury. [13] Compared with the AFO, the neuroprosthesis yielded better balance control during walking and thus managed foot drop more effectively.

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