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Effect of a semirigid thoracolumbar orthosis on gait and sagittal alignment in patients with an osteoporotic vertebral compression fracture

Authors Jacobs E, Senden R, McCrum C, van Rhijn LW, Meijer K, Willems PC

Received 29 December 2018

Accepted for publication 9 February 2019

Published 11 April 2019 Volume 2019:14 Pages 671—680


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Richard Walker

Eva Jacobs,1 Rachel Senden,2 Christopher McCrum,2,3 Lodewijk W van Rhijn,1 Kenneth Meijer,2 Paul C Willems1

1Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Research School CAPHRI, Maastricht University Medical Center+, Maastricht 6229 HX, the Netherlands; 2Department of Nutrition and Movement Sciences, NUTRIM School of Nutrition and Translational Research in Metabolism, Maastricht University Medical Center+, Maastricht, the Netherlands; 3Institute of Movement and Sport Gerontology, German Sport University Cologne, Cologne, Germany

Background: An important goal in the treatment of osteoporotic vertebral compression fractures (OVCFs) is the prevention of new vertebral fractures and the subsequent progression to global sagittal malalignment. Current conservative treatment is multimodal and comprises analgesics, medication for osteoporosis, and physical therapy. However, little is known about the value of orthoses in the treatment of OVCFs.
Aims: The primary purpose of this study was to examine the direct effect of a semirigid thoracolumbar orthosis on gait in patients suffering from an OVCF. The secondary purpose was to evaluate changes in gait, radiographic sagittal alignment, pain, and quality of life over time.
Methods: Fifteen postmenopausal patients with an OVCF were treated with a semirigid thoracolumbar orthosis. At baseline, after 6 weeks, and after 6 months, gait analysis was performed with a dual belt–instrumented treadmill with a 180° projection screen providing a virtual environment (computer-assisted rehabilitation environment) combined with clinical and radiographic assessments.
Results: At baseline, bracing caused a significantly more upright posture during walking and patients walked faster, with larger strides, longer stride times, and lower cadence compared to walking without orthosis. After 6 weeks, radiographic and dynamic sagittal alignment had improved compared to baseline. The observed effect was gone after 6 months, when the orthosis was not worn anymore.
Conclusion: A semirigid thoracolumbar orthosis seems to have a positive effect on gait and stability in patients suffering from an OVCF, as was shown by a more upright posture, which may result in decreased compressive loading of the vertebrae. For studying the true effectiveness of dynamic bracing in the treatment of OVCFs, a prospective, randomized controlled trial will be needed.

Keywords: osteoporotic vertebral compression fracture (OVCF), orthosis, dynamic bracing, sagittal alignment, trunk motion, gait analysis, computer assisted rehabilitation environment

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