Hemiplegia following a stroke often results in impaired walking in adults. A common therapeutic approach to improve the walking ability of the person with hemiplegia is the prescription of an ankle-foot-orthosis (AFO).
An ankle-foot-orthosis (AFO) is a device, usually made of plastic, which is worn on the lower part of the leg and on the foot. It is used to control the motion of the ankle and foot, to provide stability and to prevent deformities. It thereby facilitates function such as standing and walking.
It is important to start walking with an AFO as soon as possible after a stroke in order to restore mobility and to rebuild muscle and nerve memory to minimize any abnormalities of the walking patterns resulting from the stroke.
An appropriately designed AFO can facilitate this process by maintaining the ankle and foot in the appropriate and stable position, and by aligning the lower leg correctly during the stance phase of gait, thus optimizing the alignment of the ground reaction force vector to the knee and hip joints. Together, these make it easier for the patient to regain control of their muscle activity, and to improve strength and walking ability.
The importance of your first brace cannot be stressed enough. As much as a well designed brace can dramatically improve your outcome, an inappropriate design can make walking more difficult and set you back in your therapy.
Research has proven the use of an AFO following a stroke to be a valuable treatment modality however lack of evidence based research has given way to wide variations in current practices to an optimal rehabilitation program utilizing appropriate brace design following a stroke.
At Foot Support we have been designing, manufacturing and fitting custom made AFO’s since the inception of the new light weight high temperature plastic AFO’s. This was a major advancement in the Orthotic Industry and virtually made extinct the “Forest Gump” type braces. This, along with the many medical advances in post stroke care has made significant changes in the quality of life after a stroke.
Foot Support practitioners have the special knowledge and skills needed to design, manufacture and fit the best orthoses for your specific needs.
Early referral to Foot Support provides the psychological and physiological benefits of orthotic management.
Whether you recently suffered a stroke or had a stroke in the past and are just looking for a second opinion to enhance your everyday function, Foot Support would be more than happy to provide an orthotic consultation free of charge.
Characteristics of a proper fitting orthosis:
-Does not change shoe size
-You should do better with the brace on than without it
-Your leg should actually feel lighter
-You should not know when you’re wearing your orthosis; you should know when you are not wearing it
-If you don’t like it, it’s probably wrong