Ankle-foot orthosis (abbreviated: AFO) is a brace, usually plastic, worn on the lower leg and foot to support the ankle, hold the foot and ankle in the correct position, and correct foot drop. Also known as a foot-drop brace. AFOs are commonly used in the treatment of disorders that affect muscle function such as stroke, spinal cord injury, muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, polio and multiple sclerosis. AFOs can be used either by providing support to weak or wasted limbs or by positioning a limb with tight, contracted muscles into a more normal position. AFOs are also used to immobilize the ankle and lower leg in the presence of arthritis or fracture.
More Information on AFOs
The method of obtaining a good fit with an AFO involves one of 2 approaches: 1. provision of an off-the-shelf or prefabricated AFO matched in size to the end user or 2. custom manufacture of an individualized AFO from a positive model obtaining by means of a negative cast or the use of computer assisted imaging, design, and milling. The plastic used to create a durable AFO must be heated to +/- 400 degrees Fahrenheit, making direct molding of the material to the end user impossible.
AFO's generally refer to lightweight polypropylene based plastic braces. The devices are attached to the calf with a strap and a piece runs up under the foot, fitting inside an accommodative shoe. The "L" effect of the plastic shell counteracts foot drop and allows those suffering to better control their movement. The use of generic descriptions of orthopedic braces, such as ankle foot orthosis, began in the late 1970s as the result of work done by the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeon in order to make classification of such braces easy. The initial description in the literature of the device now referred to as an ankle foot orthosis was made by York, et al in the late 1960s. Prior to that time, braces that affected the lower leg were limited to metal and leather designs attached to the shoe or plaster casts, called short leg braces or short leg casts.
AFO's also now refer to what is generically called "multi podus boots". This term belongs to RCAI the inventor of the now expired patent. These boots are complete orthotics with stronger plastic shells. KYDEX is the preferred thermoplastic. Soft, padded "softgoods" cover the plastic; Cure-BAN anti-microbial impregnated softgoods protect and promote skin care; again, hook and loop closures allow the calf and foot to be wrapped and attached to the device. Heel float, ankle-foot contracture and various neurological conditions respond well to this type product. Fast-LOK ambulation pads are an option as well as anti-rotation bars and toe posts to protect the toes.