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01-12-2020 | Review | Uitgave 1/2020 Open Access

Journal of Foot and Ankle Research 1/2020

Effectiveness of therapeutic footwear for children: A systematic review

Journal of Foot and Ankle Research > Uitgave 1/2020
Matthew Hill, Aoife Healy, Nachiappan Chockalingam
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Supplementary information

Supplementary information accompanies this paper at https://​doi.​org/​10.​1186/​s13047-020-00390-3.

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It is estimated that 2% of the global childhood population is living with some form of mobility impairment. Although footwear interventions are proposed to aid ambulation, there appears to be a paucity in the understanding of the effects of therapeutic footwear. This review aims to explore the effectiveness of footwear as an intervention for mobility impairment in children.


A systematic search of MEDLINE, CINAHL, PubMed, SPORTdiscus and Scopus databases were performed. Studies which focused on children with some form of mobility impairment, age of 9 months to 18 years, therapeutic footwear that allowed walking, and outcome measures that had explored biomechanical or skeletal geometry or psychosocial aspects were included in this review. Modified Downs and Black quality assessment index of randomised and non-randomised studies were used to assess the methodologies of included papers.


Out of 5003 articles sourced, 13 met the inclusion criteria for this review. These were grouped into two titled “corrective and “functional” based on the types of footwear used for intervention. Studies within the corrective footwear group included participants aged 11 months to 5 years with moderate congenital talipes equino varus or mobile pes planus. While using skeletal geometry as an outcome, there was a limited fair quality (level II) evidence that corrective footwear has no significant effect on the development of pes planus but may assist in the reduction of deformity in congenital talipes equino varus. The functional footwear group included participants aged 3 to 17 years, predominantly with mobile pes planus or cerebral palsy. Based on biomechanical measures as an outcome, there was a limited fair quality (level III) evidence that functional footwear alters biomechanical parameters in mobile pes planus (spatiotemporal) and cerebral palsy (spatiotemporal, kinematic). Although psychosocial outcomes were considered within two studies, the analysis was limited.


Only a limited number of studies have explored the effects of therapeutic footwear and only in a narrow range of mobility impairments. Further high-quality research is required to improve the evidence base for the effectiveness of therapeutic footwear. This should include a wide range of mobility impairments and should focus both on physical and psychosocial outcomes.

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