Types of AFOs: PRAFOs
PRAFOs are a specific type of AFO that are helpful to some patients who are unable to walk, or who walk very little. These braces offer a very soft interior, offering gentle pressure relief to the patient when they can’t properly move well and are often times in bed for many hours at a time.
The PR portion stands for pressure relief AFO. These are a good choice for people who suffer from bedsores, or want to make sure they prevent them. They are also a good option if the patient currently has sores, especially on the heel. There is an open spot on the heel of these AFOs that help promote healing and prevent friction from the brace. Sometimes this is referred to as a floating heel, because there is no direct pressure applied.
When a patient lies down, they may experience problems keeping the foot in place. The foot tends to point downward and if this happens too often, it can create sores and stiffness in the joints in patients who are bedridden. A PRAFO helps keep the foot aligned properly to prevent both of these things. These braces have a bar on the back that can be adjusted left or right. It is adjustable to help position your foot as needed. Make sure you understand how to use this feature because it may not be intuitive.
When using a PRAFO, it is important for the doctor to check the patient’s heel. One that is improperly aligned can cause delayed healing of sores or create new ones. The patient should also be taught how to properly align the foot in the brace to make sure it is comfortable and supporting the foot properly. Sometimes the brace may appear to be on correctly, but the foot may not be fully in place. Proper placement of the brace will prevent more problems from occurring. We tell people that we see at Rinella Orthotics to put their heel all the way down, and back, as much as they are able. This is the goal, usually for a PRAFO.
A patient should always clearly know the difference between an AFO and a PRAFO. It can be confusing because the terms are sometimes used interchangeably even though they are two very different types of braces. As a medical professional, if your patient currently has a brace, make sure you understand what type of brace it is, no matter what the patient calls it because it may not be accurate. PRAFOs are used on patients who typically do not walk, that are either bedridden or in a wheel chair, while AFOs are used for patients who need support while walking.
For more information on PRAFOs, or to obtain one (or a pair) for yourself (or someone you know) give us a call at 815-717-8970.