Many people with MS experience problems with walking, which can make day to day activities difficult and often leads to falls. Improving walking ability is of primary importance in maintaining health, independence, and quality of life in people living with MS. Walking problems in MS are often caused by a combination of typical symptoms, such as altered function of muscles, nerves, and senses. Therefore, the key to improving mobility is to use a range of different treatment techniques which address each of these symptoms.
Foot sensation plays an important role in keeping the body upright and balanced whilst walking, yet we know from previous studies that people with MS often have poor sensation on the soles of their feet. As such wearing a specially designed shoe insole, which enhances sensory information at the feet, could help people affected by MS to walk better. This would offer healthcare professionals a new, additional treatment technique to help manage walking problems in MS.
This study will explore whether long-term wear of a textured shoe insole can improve walking in people with MS. Dr Hatton and her team will analyse how people with MS walk over an even and uneven surface, when they are wearing the insoles for the first time and after wearing the insoles for three months. They will explore whether wearing the insoles changes the way the body moves, or the leg and trunk muscles work during walking. They will also monitor any changes in the perception of foot sensation and the awareness of foot position, to help better understand how our insoles may bring about their effects on walking.
This study could lead to the development of a new treatment technique, specifically an inexpensive, easy-to-administer shoe insole, which could help towards improving mobility and independent living.
Dr Hatton has formed a collaboration with members of the Queensland University of Technology in order to take advantage of relevant infrastructure for this study. Additionally, Dr Hatton has received ‘in-kind’ support from an industry partner for the supply of the textured insoles required to progress this study. Dr Hatton has now begun recruitment of individuals with MS interested in taking part in this study.
Updated: 21 March 2016
Updated: 06 January, 2014