A specialty shoe insole that may help multiple sclerosis (MS) patients walk and go about their daily lives with more assurance and ease was developed by an Australian-led research team, which is now seeking 176 patients to test the insole in a three-month trial.
The study is led by Anna Hatton, a physiotherapy professor at the University of Queensland’s School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences in Australia, and is supported by Multiple Sclerosis Research Australia.
“Many people with MS experience problems with walking which can make day-to-day activities difficult and often leads to falls, so improving walking ability is of primary importance in maintaining health, independence, and quality of life,” Hatton said in a press release.
“Evidence suggests that wearing textured shoe insoles, which are designed to stimulate receptors on the soles of the feet, may be one possible option to help improve gait,” she added. “We now need people with MS to help us investigate whether the novel insoles influence the way the leg and trunk muscles work while walking on both even and uneven surfaces.”
The team will also investigate changes in the perception of sensations in the feet and awareness of the foot’s position, as these play a key role in keeping the body balanced when walking.
“We know from previous studies that people with MS often have poor sensation on the soles of their feet,” Hatton said. “Therefore, wearing a specially designed shoe insole, which enhances sensory information at the feet, could help people affected by MS to walk better.”
Researchers hope that this study will result in a relatively inexpensive and easy-to-use treatment approach that might give MS patients a more autonomous lifestyle.
Study participants must be older than 18, diagnosed with MS, be able to walk 100 meters (about 110 yards) independently or with only minor assistance from a mobility aid, and have no other neurological disorders or cognitive impairment.
Team members includes Sandra Brauer and Katrina Williams of Queensland University, Keith Rome with the Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand, and John Dixon of Teesside University in the U.K.
The study will take place at Queens University’s Gait Lab. Interested MS patients can contact Hatton at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling +61-7-3365-4590 or +61-7-3365-3299.