Postcode Lottery for NHS Orthotics Patients

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Our latest paper published in the BMJ Open highlight large variances in appointment times, waiting times, product entitlements for patients, and product lead times across various NHS trusts.

Although some geographical areas provide shorter waiting times and wider access to assistive devices, other areas have very long waiting time which means that the service, particularly to the paediatric population is meaningless.

The NHS trusts seemed to be able to answer questions that reflect quantity of service above quality of service. However, the combination of the number of Trusts who declined to reply to the FOI request and those who replied with limited information, hindered the ability of this study to collate the data received to provide a fuller national picture of the Orthotic Service provision.

Although this paper confirms that many of the issues reported in previous reports on Orthotic Service provision are still evident, the result show that there have been some improvements.

Read the full paper here: https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/9/10/e028186

Press Release: https://www.staffs.ac.uk/news/2019/10/postcode-lottery-for-nhs-orthotics-patients

Foot orthoses: Is the practitioner really important?

One of our classic papers looked at the influence of practitioners and their skills in prescribing foot orthosis which are commonly prescribed and used in treating numerous lower limb problems.

Over the years several studies have reported positive effects and most clinical practitioners would confirm those findings. However, the exact mechanisms in which these orthoses work are not fully understood.

Our results suggest that the type and amount of effects observed is greatly influenced by the practitioners. From a scientific perspective, this indicates that great caution should be taken when studying and reporting the effects of custom foot orthoses (CFO). Had only one practitioner been used for studying CFO effects on kinematics, altogether different conclusions could have been drawn based on a single pair of CFO.

We recommend that future research on foot orthoses should focus on their long-term effect through longitudinal studies. Nevertheless, based on the reported data, it seems improbable that two different devices could yield the exact same results.

Most CFO will induce some systematic changes during gait. Furthermore, this study demonstrated that inter-practitioner variability is a major factor in orthotic intervention in treating a single patient and for a specific pathology. Based on the findings, it is strongly recommended to use caution when drawing general conclusions from research studies using CFO as it has been showed that the practitioner himself or herself will have a great influence on the treatment outcome. In addition, comparing studies on CFO where different practitioners were involved should be done with great caution as the conclusion could vastly differ.

Reference:

Chevalier, T.L. and Chockalingam, N., 2012. Effects of foot orthoses: how important is the practitioner?. Gait & posture35(3), pp.383-388.

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0966636211007600?via%3Dihub

 

 

Congratulations – Nicky !

Nicola Eddison, one of the senior orthotists in the UK who recently completed her Ph.D at the Centre for Biomechanics and Rehabilitation Technologies writes on her experience:

I have worked in the NHS as the clinical lead for orthotics at the Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust, for over a decade. My passion is paediatric orthotics, primarily the provision of ankle foot orthoses – footwear combinations (AFO-FCs) for children with neurological conditions.

I chose to undertake a Ph.D to increase my understanding of the biomechanics involved in AFO prescriptions and to investigate the effects of AFO optimisation (commonly termed AFO tuning) in an attempt to improve clinical outcomes and better inform the wider clinical community.

My research focused on the effect of biomechanically optimised AFO-FCs on the gait of children with cerebral palsy.

This research is first of its kind, to offer data in a case series analysis format on AFO-FC tuning, providing individual data rather than group means. For a practising clinician this is very important as each patient is different. I hope others will follow this model. In addition, my work is also the first piece of research which looked at the effects of AFO-FC tuning on energy expenditure and patient perception.

The project provides quantitative data to support the importance of biomechanically optimising AFO-FCs and as such, it contributes to the improvement of AFO prescriptions for children with cerebral palsy.

I thoroughly enjoyed conducting this research and have applied my research knowledge to practice. I intend to continue working with Professor Chockalingam and Dr Healy to help tackle issues relating to Orthotics and Assistive Technology.

As Nachi says, “research is addictive” and I want to continue to work on clinically relevant research questions which will have a substantial impact on people’s lives.

Publications from Nicky’s work:

Eddison N and Chockalingam N (2012): The effect of tuning ankle foot orthoses-footwear combination on the gait parameters of children with cerebral palsy. Prosthet Orthot Int published online 24. July 2012. https://doi.org/10.1177/0309364612450706

Eddison N and Chockalingam N (2014): Ankle foot orthosis- footwear combination tuning: An investigation into common clinical practice in the United Kingdom. Published online before print February 24, 2014 Prosthet Othot Int February 24, 2014. https://doi.org/10.1177/0309364613516486

Eddison N and Chockalingam N (2014): Response: Turning of rigid ankle-foot orthoses is essential. Prosthet Orthot Int, first published on April 1, 2014. https://doi.org/10.1177/0309364614525734

Eddison N, Mulholland M and Chockalingam N. Do research papers provide enough information on design and material used in Ankle Foot Orthoses (AFO) for children with cerebral palsy (CP)? : A systematic review. Journal of Children’s Orthopaedics, 2017; 1-9. https://doi.org/10.1302/1863-2548.11.160256

Eddison N, Healy A, Needham R and Chockalingam N. Shank – to – Vertical – Angle in AFOs: A comparison of static and dynamic assessment in a series of cases. Journal of Prosthetics and Orthotics . JPO Journal of Prosthetics and Orthotics · August 2017. doi: 10.1097/JPO.0000000000000141

Eddison N, Healy A, Needham R and Chockalingam N: Exploratory investigation into energy expenditure using tuned versus non-tuned ankle foot orthoses- footwear combinations in children with cerebral palsy. JPO Journal of Prosthetics and Orthotics. 2018. In Press.