How to Apply Your Plastic AFO
If you suffer from a condition called drop foot, then you may benefit from a leg brace. Often when an orthotist gets a script from a doctor for a “leg brace” or an “AFO brace” it is a good starting point but there is still much to be done. If you are getting a leg brace made from plastic, you will need to complete an initial meeting to get an impression made of your ankle and foot. This impression is then used to create the AFO. AFO’s can be created out of plastic, metal, or even leather depending on how severe your particular case of drop foot is.
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Once you have your plastic AFO, it is time to learn how to apply it. It begins by applying a long sock to your leg first. This sock or stocking will absorb any of your sweat, which prevents it from accumulating inside of your brace. It also acts as a barrier to protect your skin. Skin irritations are not actually that common, but it is a possibility nonetheless and taking appropriate preventative measures is always best.
Once this is done, you need to loosen your closure straps which are located on the side of the AFO. This should allow enough room for your leg and your foot to fit inside of the orthosis. You need to slide your AFO into position, with your heel seated comfortably. You can scan the back of the heel and the sides of your brace to double check this. If you are putting the AFO on a child, you need to make sure that their knee is bent and that they push their foot in a scooping motion inside of the AFO. – The heel of an an adult should always be all the way down and all the way back in the AFO, as far as the person can tolerate comfortably.
With this out of the way, all of the tension straps need to be applied and pulled back until the brace is snug against the foot. You can mark the end of the strap in order to keep the appropriate level of tension each time you put it on. After your brace is secured, you can slide it into your shoe. A shoe horn is a great way to do this quickly and efficiently. Your laces may need to be loosened in order to open the shoe wide enough to fit the brace. This will help you to slide the brace in with ease. Some people put their brace into the shoe before they put their foot into it, and either way is appropriate.
*This is good health information, but every AFO is different, so it is best to first work with your provider for the particular information pertaining to your aFO.
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