Ankle Foot Orthosis (AFO)
By: Corinne Gehegan, DPM
An AFO is an external device used to align and support the foot, ankle, and lower leg in an effort to improve stability and mobility. It may be prefabricated or custom made. Pediatric, adult, and senior patients can benefit from the use of an AFO. The AFO may be created from a variety of materials. It may be flexible or rigid depending on the patient’s particular condition and the goals of the AFO. Pediatric braces tend to be more flexible and low profile so that the patient is still able to explore foot position and movement in a guided context.
A custom device is made by molding quick drying plaster or fiberglass to the patient’s lower extremity. As the material dries the foot, ankle, and leg are held in a corrected position. The cast is then easily removed. The cast is sent along with a prescription detailing the type of brace and materials desired to a laboratory. Prior to the casting, it is important to assess the patient’s history, the degree of voluntary control of the foot and lower extremity, and the gait. Finding shoes that accommodate the brace is generally not a problem. A size or two larger than normal may be required. Flexible material and a removable liner are recommended.
An Ankle Foot Orthosis helps improve the gait, mobility, and stability of patients with numerous medical conditions many involving neurological and neuromuscular conditions. They include, but are not limited to:
– Neurological and neuromuscular conditions
– Developmental delays
– Toe Walking
– Cerebral Palsy
– Muscular Dystrophy
– Down syndrome
– Spina Bifida
– Post polio
– Post stroke
– Traumatic head and spine injuries
– Diabetic Charcot Arthropathy
– Drop Foot
– Avascular Necrosis
– Posterior Tibial Tendon Dysfunction
Article written by Dr. Corinne Gehegan
To schedule an appointment for Ankle Foot Orthosis (AFO), please call (201) 840-7373.