Ankle Foot Orthoses
Ankle foot orthoses (AFO) are among the most commonly used orthoses. This type of orthosis extends from below the knee, around the ankle joint and along the plantar aspect of the foot. These orthoses function in a variety of ways to assist in controlling ankle and knee joint position, to correct foot drop, to improve ankle and foot stability and to improve standing and walking positions.
The main varieties of ankle foot orthoses are:
- Rigid design – supports and holds the ankle and knee joint in a stable position.
- Hinged design – allows variable amounts of motion at the ankle joint while supporting the lower extremity position.
- Flexible design – commonly used for ‘foot drop’ conditions to allow dorsiflexion motion at the ankle while also preventing the toes from dragging.
- Supramalleolar design – extends from above the ankle joint to the bottom of the foot and supports and controls excessive pronation and supination motion of the foot.
- Many other designs that are customized for individual client needs.
Ankle foot orthoses for cerebral palsy treatment
A very simple definition of cerebral palsy is a disorder that is a result of lack of oxygen to the brain. For a young child or infant, this can cause many problems with muscle tone and function, such as delaying or preventing that child from standing and walking. When a young child with cerebral palsy is trying to stand, and is unable to support their body on their lower extremities, a custom ankle foot orthosis (AFO) may be helpful. The AFO can work to hold the lower limb from the knee to the foot while also providing additional support to the ankle to allow an improved standing position. It works as an ‘extra pair of hands’ to assist the child in achieving the best of their abilities.