AFO-An ankle-foot orthosis, or AFO, is a support intended to control the position and motion of the ankle, compensate for weakness, or correct deformities. AFOs can be used to support weak limbs, or to position a limb with contracted muscles into a more normal position. In addition, AFOs are used to control foot drop caused by a variety of neurologic and musculoskeletal disorders. Due to the common use for addressing foot drop, AFO has become synonymous with the term “foot-drop brace”.
The goal of AFO use is to stabilize the foot and ankle and provide toe clearance during the swing phase of gait. This helps decrease the risk of catching the toe and falling.
A typical AFO creates an L-shaped frame around the foot and ankle, extending from just below the knee to the metatarsal heads of the foot. AFO’s can be purchased off the shelf or can be custom molded to an individual wearer, and can be fabricated of a variety of materials, including heat-moldable plastics, metal, leather and carbon composite. AFO’s are the most commonly used orthoses, making up about 26% of all orthoses provided in the United States. Different types of AFO’s meet specific needs including: