Abnormal Foot Position and Standing and Walking Ability in Rett Syndrome: an Exploratory Study

Hanneke E. Borst, Gillian S. Townend*, Mirjam van Eck, Eric Smeets, Marielle van den Berg, Aleid Laan, Leopold M. G. Curfs

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This study aimed to determine whether there is a relationship between abnormal foot position and standing and walking ability in individuals with Rett syndrome (RTT), a rare neurological condition primarily affecting females, often accompanied by impaired gross motor function and musculoskeletal deformities. Through means of an online survey, physiotherapists were asked to share information about their work and experience with individuals with RTT. They were asked about their clients' scores on the Rett Syndrome Gross Motor Scale and measures of their foot deformity, passive range of motion of dorsiflexion of the foot, use of supportive footwear, pressure load on the foot, and symmetry in weight bearing. 45 physiotherapists gave answers relating to 67 individuals with RTT who ranged in age from 2 to over 50 years. Almost 80% had an abnormal foot position which required support of special shoes or orthoses. Approximately 55% experienced abnormal pressure load on the foot and 65% demonstrated asymmetrical weight-bearing; 22% could sit independently and 17% were able to stand and walk independently. Of all the variables investigated, only abnormal distribution of pressure on the foot and asymmetry in weight bearing through the legs were found to be (negatively) correlated with standing and walking ability. Physiotherapists can use this information to give advice on othopedic support for the feet of individuals with RTT.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)281-295
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Developmental and Physical Disabilities
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2018


  • Rett syndrome
  • Walking
  • Foot deformities
  • Orthosis
  • Weight bearing
  • Rett Syndrome Gross Motor Scale
  • GAIT


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