Patients suffering from a stroke usually experience problems with walking. As one of the effects of the stroke is the loss of control of the muscles, due to the paralysis or weakness, lifting the leg properly without dragging the toes is something that most stroke patients have to face. As a result, many patients end up developing a steppage gait, lifting their leg higher than it should be whenever they make a step, so as to avoid the dragging of their toes and tripping over. Repeated daily, this becomes a chronic plantar flexed foot, or foot drop, which can cause nuisance to the patients and it can often be frustrating for people.
However, there are solutions that the foot drop patients can utilize; the two most common ones include AFO and WalkAide.
This is an ankle foot orthosis, i.e. a brace that provides both static and dynamic support to all of the patients that can’t raise their foot properly. It provides the needed support for the the sagittal and coronal planes of motion, but it indirectly supports the knee as well. It is made by a certified specialist, called an orthosist. It is especially important that the orthosist is a qualified person with a license and a vast amount of experience, especially as there are different types of AFOs, each suited to different patients.
Type of AFOs
There are three types of AFOs: solid, dynamic and custom vs non-custom molded.
The term “solid ankle” refers to the plastic at the ankle which comes anterior to the joint to provide maximum stability in the sagittal and coronal planes of motion. When the support is anterior to the ankle this can not only help lift the foot when you walk but it can also provide with side to side stability and indirect support at the knee which can stop you from buckling and falling.
The term dynamic refers to the possibility of the AFO to move at the place where the ankle joint is, hence giving more mobility to the ankle. It also provides a sufficient support to the ankle, though not as much as the solid AFOs do. These dynamic AFOs allow you to bend forward at the ankle which can be good, but not for the patients who have a propensity to falling. The reason is that falling can often be the same movement that is allowed when bending forward at the ankle joint.
Molded AFOs are made based on the mold of the foot/leg of the patient. They are custom made to fit the individual needs of each patient. We believe these are the best because they account for the exact shape of someone’s heel size, forefoot, midfoot, arch shape (width and height).
For more information on AFOs (ankle foot orthoses / foot drop braces) for stroke patients, please call us at 815-717-8970