Gait analysis of leprosy patients with foot drop using principal component analysis.
Background: Peripheral nerve injury caused by leprosy can lead to foot drop, resulting in an altered gait pattern that has not been previously described using 3D gait analysis.
Methods: Gait kinematics and dynamics were analyzed in 12 patients with unilateral foot drop caused by leprosy and in 15 healthy controls. Biomechanical data from patients' affected and unaffected limbs were compared with controls using inferential statistics and a standard distance, based on principal components analysis (PCA).
Findings: Patients walked slower than controls (0.8 ± 0.2 vs. 1.1 ± 0.2 m/s, p = 0.003), with a reduced stance and increased swing percentage. The affected limb increased (p < 0.05) plantar flexion at the initial contact (-16.8 ± 8.3), terminal stance (-29.1 ± 11.5), and swing (-12.4 ± 6.2) in the affected limb compared to unaffected (-6.6 ± 10.3; -14.6 ± 11.6; 2.4 ± 7.6) and controls (-5.4 ± 2.5; -18.8 ± 5.8; -1.4 ± 3.9). Increased pelvic tilt and knee adduction/abduction range, with lower hip adduction, were observed. The second peak of ground reaction force (98.6 ± 5.2 %BW), ankle torque (0.99 ± 0.33 Nm/kg), and net ankle work in stance (-0.03 ± 5.4 J/Kg) decreased in the affected limb compared to controls (104.1 ± 5.5 %BW; 1.24 ± 0.4 Nm/kg; -4.58 ± 5.19 J/kg; p < 0.05). There were decreasing multivariate standard distances in the affected limb compared with the unaffected and controls. PCA loading factors highlighted the major differences between groups.
Interpretation: Leprosy patients with foot drop presented altered gait patterns in affected and unaffected limbs. There were remarkable differences in ankle kinematics and dynamics. Rehabilitation devices, such as ankle foot orthosis or tendon transfer surgeries to increase ankle dorsiflexion, could benefit these patients and reduce deviations from normal gait.