This blog will cover the topic of “Articulated AFOs”.
We will discuss why someone articulates an AFO and show you what it looks like.
Below is a picture of 2 AFOs (adult and pediatric), that are articulated :
1.) Describing What The Picture Shows
Articulated AFOs (ankle foot orthoses) are special braces that help people walk better. When an AFO is articulated it means that the ankle joint is activated.
As a result of being “articulated”, AFOs have the ability to move at the ankle. Sometimes it is best to only allow movement in one direction. This is achieved with the incorporation of a plantar flexion stop, for example. Therefore, if you are stopping plantarflexion, you would be allowing dorsiflexion.
2.) The Trick To Remembering Dorsiflexion Vs. Plantarflexion
One trick to remembering the difference between plantarflexion and dorsiflexion is to think about the toe of your foot. If you are going to plant your toe first, you would be plantarflexing your foot. If however, you are dorsiflexing your foot, you might think of your toe as going underneath a door and pulling upward in order to open the door. This would be dorsiflexion.
3.) The Good & The Bad Regarding AFO Articulation
Simply put, if you articulate an AFO, you are allowing motion. This can be good or it can be bad, if it is done prematurely. If you allow movement at the ankle and the patient is ready, then this will help them walk with a more fluid gait. – Who doesn’t want more fluidity in their walk, right?
Well, the downside to more motion at the ankle is that if you get too much movement, then you have to be concerned with tripping. If your muscles are not ready, then from a bracing standpoint, you could either drag your foot (drop foot) when you walk. Or, you could have less knee control and this could very easily end in a knee buckle and falling situation.
4.) What AFOs Can Do For People
The whole idea behind AFOs is that we want to help people walk. Premature movement at the ankle, however can work against people sometimes. – Many people do not quite realize this, but an AFO can help many people shed their walking canes. This is achieved by improved balance, improved walking speed and a decrease in the energy that is required to walk distances.
5.) Free Motion Vs. Dorsi Assist Ankle Joints
AFOs can have free motion ankle joints or they can have dorsi assist ankle joints. Free motion can allow for movement in the upper and lower parts of the brace. A dorsi assist joint, on the other hand can help kick the foot up when someone is trying to clear their limb. Many patient with foot drop like these joints and for good reason!
If you are interested in getting an AFO, or want to learn more about them give us a call at 815-717-8970. Rinella Orthotics, Inc. helps patients walk better all the time and we can help you too. We service Chicago and all of its suburbs.