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Non-surgical management of a pediatric “intoed” gait pattern – a systematic review of the current best evidence

Authors Uden H, Kumar SS

Received 29 November 2011

Accepted for publication 13 December 2011

Published 25 January 2012 Volume 2012:5 Pages 27—35

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/JMDH.S28669

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3

Hayley Uden1, Saravana Kumar2
1Podiatry Department, University of South Australia, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia; 2Post Doctoral Senior Research Fellow, International Centre for Allied Health Evidence, University of South Australia, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

Background: An intoed gait pattern is one of the most common referrals for children to an orthopedic consultation. Parental concern as to the aesthetics of the child’s gait pattern and/or its symptomatic nature will primarily drive these referrals during a child’s early developmental years. Whilst some of these referrals prove to be the result of a normal growth variant, some children will present with a symptomatic intoed gait pattern. Various treatments, both conservative and surgical, have been proposed including: braces, wedges, stretches and exercises, shoe modifications, and surgical procedures. However, which treatments are effective and justified in the management of this condition is not clear within the literature. The aim of this systematic review was to therefore identify and critique the best available evidence for the non-surgical management of an intoed gait pattern in a pediatric population.
Method: A systematic review was conducted of which only experimental studies investigating a management option for an intoeing gait pattern were included. Studies needed to be written in English, pertaining to a human pediatric population, and published within a peer reviewed journal. Electronic databases were searched: Ovid (Medline), EMBASE, AMED, PubMed, SportDiscus, CINAHL, and Cochrane Library. The National Health and Medical Research Council’s designation of levels of hierarchy and the Critical Appraisal Skills Programme cohort studies critical appraisal tool were used.
Results: Five level IV studies were found. The studies were of varied quality and with mixed results. Gait plates, physiologic/standardized shoes, and orthotic devices (with gate plate extension) were shown to produce a statistically significant improvement to an intoed gait pattern. Shoe wedges, torqheels, and a leather counter splint were not able to reduce an intoed gait pattern.
Conclusion: There is limited evidence to inform the non-surgical management of a pediatric intoed gait pattern. The body of evidence that does exist is small (n = 5) and of varied quality, which means recommendations arising from this evidence base should be interpreted with caution. There is generally weak evidence that suggests that gait plates and orthotic devices with a gait plate extension may assist in the management of a pediatric intoed gait pattern.

Keywords: intoeing, toe-in, toeing in, in-toeing

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