Do Insoles Help Balance

Dixon J, Hatton AL, Robinson J, Gamesby-Iyayi H, Hodgson D, Rome K, Warnett R, Martin DJ. Effect of textured insoles on balance and gait in people with multiple sclerosis: an exploratory trial. Physiotherapy. 2013 Sep 23. doi:pii: S0031-9406(13)00074-6. 10.1016/ [Epub ahead of print]

OBJECTIVES: To investigate the immediate effects of textured insoles on balance and gait in people with multiple sclerosis (MS), and to explore any effects after 2 weeks of wear.
METHODS: Forty-six individuals with MS (34 females, 12 males), with a mean (SD) age of 49 (7) years, who could walk 100m unassisted or using one stick/crutch. Participants were tested wearing three types of insoles in a random order: control (smooth), Texture 1 (Algeos) or Texture 2 (Crocs™). Participants were allocated at random to wear one type of textured insoles for 2 weeks, after which they were retested.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Standing balance (centre of pressure excursions and velocity) was measured with eyes open and eyes closed on a Kistler force platform. Spatio-temporal parameters of gait were measured using a GAITRite system.
RESULTS: The textured insoles had no significant immediate effects on balance or gait, apart from an increase in anteroposterior sway range with eyes open for Texture 2 insoles [mean difference 4.5 (95% confidence interval 0.6 to 8.4)mm]. After 2 weeks, balance was not significantly different, but both types of textured insoles showed significant effects on spatio-temporal parameters of gait, with mean stride length increases of 3.5cm (Texture 1) and 5.3cm (Texture 2) when wearing the insoles.
CONCLUSIONS: After 2 weeks of wear, there were improvements in spatio-temporal parameters of gait. However, it is unclear whether this was a placebo effect or a learning effect.

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