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AFO - Ankle Foot Orthosis
 
 
 
 The AFO (Ankle Foot Orthosis) has been used for decades to treat physical problems with the lower limb. AFO's are commonly sused to treat foot drop due to Stroke, MS (Multiple Sclerosis), CP (Cerebral Palsy), Nerve Damage, Spinal Cord Injuries, Traumatic Brain Injuries, and General Weakness. The AFO can also be used for postional support for patients with Excessive Muscle Tone, Paralysis, or Congenital Deformity, and to immobilize the foot/ankle in cases of Charcot Feet, Fracture, Arthritis, or Wound Management.
 
 The Metal and Leather version of the brace is the oldest design still used today, and is still a valuable treatment option for many people. Over the years, many different variations of the AFO have been developed, increasing the indepedence, comfort. and functional ability for many.
 

 

 

 

 

 
Conventional AFO
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
  
 
 
Plastic Solid Ankle AFO
 
 
 
 
 
 
  
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 Articulating AFO
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Molded Ankle Gauntlet or Arizona Style AFO
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

Conventional AFO
 
    Conventional AFO's are comprised of a metal frame with leather straps, attached to a shoe. This design has been widely used since Civil War times. This AFO is used for patients with foot drop, arthritic ankles, diabetic wounds, neuropathy, and general weakness or instability. This design is usually prescribed when skin integrity or lack of sensation is of concern.
 

Pros:

  • Strength

  • Durability

  • Minimal skin contact

  • Unfixed volume - allows for fluctuating edema

  • Versatile, modular joints available that allow variable function of the ankle

 

Cons:

  • Weight

  • Must be attached to a shoe

  • Prone to squeaks

  • Requires some maintanence

  • Relies on straps to control deforming forces

 

 

 


 

 

Plastic Solid Ankle AFO

 

   Braces made of molded plastic offer a different dimension of support than the conventional, metal and leather style. A plastic brace that is molded to a model of a patients limb allows even skin contact which decreases the occurance of pressure points by spreading the corrective force over a larger surface area. Solid ankle AFO's are used to maximize the support of the leg in instances of ankle and knee weakness, spasticity, and for positional support. Different versions of the Solid Ankle AFO are also used to immobilize the foot and ankle to manage wounds, heal fractures, and to decrease pain from arthritis.

 

Pros:

  • Lightweight

  • Customized fit

  • Good Support

  • Adjustability

 

Cons:

  • Fixed Volume, not to be used with fluctuating edema

  • Inhibits motion of the foot and ankle

  • Can require roomy shoe

  • Fit must be monitored in case of change in patients limb

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Plastic Articulating AFO

 

   Most of the AFO's used today incorporate an ankle joint of some kind to allow ankle motion. When designing an AFO, our goal is always to allow as much motion as possible while blocking unwanted movement.

 

   There are several different styles of ankle joints available to users. Selection of an ankle joint depends entirely on what the AFO is designed to do, and how it will be used.

 

Pros:

  • Allows ankle motion

  • Can be used to assist dorsiflexion

  • Lightweight

  • Customized Fit

  • Adjustable

  • Can be fabricated with plantarflexion stop

 

Cons:

  • Fixed Volume, not to be used with fluctuating edema

  • Can require roomy shoe

  • Fit must be monitored in case of change in patients limb

  • Can increase spasticity if improperly implemented

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

Molded Ankle Gauntlet

 Arizona Style AFO

 

   Commonly referred to as Arizona AFO's, Molded Ankle Gauntlets are plastic solid ankle AFO's covered sandwiched between two layers of leather. The inside of the AFO is lined with a soft leather and is padded to cushion bony areas. The leather that covers the AFO is a stiffer, more durable dress leather. This design is often used when greater immobilization is needed.

 

    The Arizona Style AFO is a good treatment option for arthitic ankle pain and for Posterior Tibial Tendon Disfunction.

 

Pros:

  • Very effective immobilization

  • Customizable

  • Very secure fit

  • High success rate when used correctly

  • Adjustable

 

Cons:

  • Slightly Bulky

  • MUST be worn with a Shoe

  • Usually requires Extra Depth Shoe

  • Can be hot in summertime

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

Prefabricated Carbon Fiber AFO

 

   AFO's made of carbon fiber have been widely used for about the past decade. Carbon Fiber is extremely lightweight, and durable. This style of AFO is best used for isolated foot drop. When other instabilities are present, a custom version can be made to accomodate any need.

 

Pros:

  • VERY Lightweight

  • Less obtrusive than many other AFO's

  • Easily fits into shoes

  • Available over the counter as a custom fit device

 

Cons:

  • Non Adjustable

  • Carbon Fiber is rigid, uncomfortable to some

  • Usually not a perfect fit

  • Carbon Fiber can fail if not used properly

 

 

 

 

 

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