Pectus excavatum is the most frequently observed type of chest malformation in children. The condition is also known as “Funnel chest” or “Sunken chest”. It's a chest wall deformity involving multiple ribs and the breastbone growing inwards. That gives the chest a concave appearance that looks sunken or caved-in.
What is Pectus Excavatum?
It’s a genetic condition that can be passed down through heredity. About 40% of children diagnosed with the condition report having one or more relatives with the condition.
Pectus excavatum is observed more commonly in males and isn’t always visible upon birth. The condition becomes more evident as the child grows, with the inwards curvature becoming more pronounced.
The deformity can range from mildly odd-looking to a severely sunken chest. Causes for Pectus excavatum are not entirely understood. During normal development, the ribs and breastbone grow outward at the anterior of the chest.
Pectus excavatum is believed to result from abnormal growth of the cartilage that connects the ribs to the sternum. This excessive growth pulls the sternum inward, resulting in pectus excavatum.
Often, children diagnosed with pectus excavatum also suffer from one or more of the following conditions:
Even though it’s a birth defect, signs and symptoms of pectus excavatum typically appear as the child nears puberty. Mild cases only present with a slight dip in the chest wall that’s barely obvious. A child may not show any symptoms during normal daily activities but get tired and out of breath quicker than his peers.
In more extreme cases, pectus excavatum can create pressure on the lung and heart. That could compromise the working of vital functions, leading to a host of other issues such as
The diagnostic process will depend on your child’s overall health and the presence of other defects. The doctor will perform a physical exam and might recommend one or more of the following tests if pectus excavatum is suspected
Children's bodies are constantly developing and growing, each unique from the other. That’s why when it comes to pectus excavatum, pediatricians often take the “wait and see” approach. Given, of course, that the deformity is not affecting cardiopulmonary function.
Complications from pectus excavatum can vary widely from infants to teenagers. That’s why it's crucial to regularly monitor any suspected cases before symptoms develop into any severe complications.
Scheduling regular appointments with a specialist is a great preventive measure for all children diagnosed with the condition.
Pectus excavatum can be surgically treated if symptoms prevail to improve a patient’s breathing and cardiac function. That’s done by repositioning the sternum to a more natural, outward position. Once the breast bone is not bending inwards, pressure on the heart and lungs eases up. That allows enough room for the organs to function more effectively.
Of course, addressing any psychological aspects of the condition is also important. Pectus excavatum often peaks when children are approaching puberty and already going through many challenges regarding their self-image. Surgery is less invasive in most cases and dramatically improves the physical appearance of the chest.
Surgical options available to your child will vary on several factors. Primarily these procedures are performed for correcting pectus excavatum:
The Nuss Procedure
A camera is guided through the chest cavity, and two small slits are made on each side of the chest. The next step is to insert an arched steel bar just under the sternum.
The curvature of these steel bars is modified for each patient, depending on their deformity. It can be left in place for up to 3 years while it slowly reshapes the chest depression.
The Ravitch Procedure
This is the more traditional and invasive surgical option for correcting pectus excavatum. It can take any of these two approaches:
An incision is made on the front of the chest, and cartilaginous parts of the overgrown ribs are cut and removed. The sternum is then pulled forward, away from the heart and lungs, and into the natural plane of the chest wall. A metal plate and screws then securely adhere the sternum into its new position.
With the second method, a small metal bar is placed behind the sternum. It's left in place from 6 months up to a year. Removal of the bar is done in a simple outpatient procedure once the chest takes on a more normal appearance.
Vacuum Bell Device
An effective way to treat milder pectus excavatum in young patients. A bell-shaped instrument connected to a pump is placed on the child’s chest. It pumps the air out, creating a vacuum that brings the chest forward.
Doctors often recommend physical therapy and exercises in addition to all these correctional methods. The goal is to strengthen the chest muscles and improve your child’s posture.
Help Your Child Overcome Pectus Excavatum
If you suspect pectus excavatum in your child, the best time to take action is now. Book a free consultation today with Align clinic to discuss treatment options to correct and manage the condition.
Pectus Carinatum, the condition more commonly known as pigeon chest, is a relatively rare birth defect. The 1 out of every 1500 children that suffer from the condition is born with an abnormally shaped chest. The reason is an anomaly in the chest wall that causes the child's breastbone to protrude outwards to an abnormal degree.
The deformity becomes more prominent as the child grows, though it is present from birth. Pectus carinatum is not usually harmful or deadly. It doesn't cause any organ damage or hinder their normal functioning in any way.
Asthma and respiratory issues are reported in some extreme cases, in addition to soreness in and around the chest area. The disorder certainly affects the physical appearance of the child and thus, can have psychological implications as the child grows. If left untreated, it can cause health issues later in life.
Treatment Options for Pectus Carinatum
Recent studies conducted regarding the illness suggest that it might occur more often than we initially realized in the past. The treatment path for your child will often vary on several factors such as:
If the illness has developed into its later stages, then surgery is usually used as a last resort option. Let’s look at some ways pectus carinatum is treated:
The Ravitch Technique
Up till a few years ago, the standard treatment option for pectus carinatum was “the Ravitch technique”. That’s an invasive surgical correction that involved making an incision across the chest and cutting away the defect-causing cartilage.
All major surgeries come with inherent risks. There can also be serious psychological and physiological complications for the minor it was performed on.
The Abramson Technique
Another way to treat the deformity with a less invasive approach than the Ravitch technique is The Abramson procedure. This is a minimally invasive surgical correction method. The procedure is comparatively recent, and much less aggressive treatment for pectus carinatum.
A metal bar is implanted in the presternal, extra-thoracic region during the surgery. The bar stays in place for a period of up to 2 years in an attempt to lessen the presentation of pectus carinatum.
Pectus Carinatum Bracing
Chest wall bracing is a great option for correcting pectus carinatum in children. Pectus carinatum bracing can be very effective if the illness is caught early enough. It’s generally prescribed for children who are still in the growing phase.
The pectus carinatum brace can help correct the abnormality by gently placing pressure on the chest to re-shape the breastbone. The pectus carinatum brace is a lightweight and wearable device custom-fitted to each child’s specific size.
How It Works
The mechanism behind the pectus carinatum brace is comparable to how braces work to straighten teeth gently. The chest bracket is tailored to the child’s size and pushes the cartilage inwards to align it better with the chest cavity.
Since the chest cartilage is more malleable in kids than other bones, the technique is generally quite effective in correcting the visible appearance of the chest wall.
The pectus carinatum brace rarely causes any problems for the child. If the child feels too much pressure or shows sensitivity towards the tightness, you can give a low dose of acetaminophen once you clear it with your pediatrician. A child’s irritation with the bracing is quite understandable and differs from physical pain or discomfort.
Finding the right balance between maintaining enough pressure to straighten the malformed curve while keeping the child comfortable can be challenging. The child’s doctor will schedule regular visits to monitor progress and make any needed re-adjustments to the brace.
Duration of Wear
Bracing typically takes place in two phases. The first is more aggressive with the child keeping the brace on for 24 hours daily. That continues till the abnormality has been corrected. The second requires the child to wear the brace only at night, anywhere from 8-12 hours until axial growth is complete.
The pectus carinatum brace is unnoticeable under regular clothing. An important plus for self-conscious children who want to participate in activities with their peers.
In most typical cases, the child will need to wear the pectus carinatum brace anywhere from six to twelve months. That duration can be longer or shorter depending on the severity of their case. At least 8-12 hours a day of wear is a must for the brace to be effective. Doctors allow the occasional break for activities such as
The success rate of the pectus carinatum brace is quite promising. Around 65-80 % of long-term patients fully recover with bracing as the only treatment administered.
Bracing is a risk-free treatment option that can have a significant impact on boosting your child's confidence.
Being vigilant in wearing the brace for the recommended daily periods is one of the best things a patient can do for recovery. Failure of pectus carinatum bracing as a treatment option is due mainly to non-compliance with the doctor’s instructions.
Get Your Child Fitted for the Pectus Carinatum Brace Today
Pectus carinatum can be a scary diagnosis to come to terms with. The good news is that the sooner you start treatment, the better your child’s chances of making a full recovery. To learn more about your child’s condition and treatment options, log on to the Align clinic website now and book an appointment.
Above-the-knee amputation, or AKA for short, implicates the surgical removal of the leg from or above the knee. Typically done by cutting through the thigh tissue and femoral bone completely. An above-the-knee amputation includes removing the leg from any point above the knee.
It’s a major surgical procedure with far-reaching implications for your physiologic and psychological health.
The more you educate yourself about the after-care, above-the-knee prosthetics options available to you after AKA, the better you can make decisions about your health and well-being.
Causes for Above The Knee Amputation
Above-the-knee amputation is considered major surgery. The procedure is only carried out in the absence or failure of other options to salvage the limb. Most often, the surgery is done in emergencies to save the patient’s life when prospects of recovery of the leg are null. There can be many reasons for an above-the-knee-amputation surgery, such as
You may or may not have gotten a chance to prepare mentally before the surgery as it’s often carried out in emergencies as a life-saving measure. While the psychological implications of losing a limb are certainly deep, it helps to remember that you are not without control.
Your Surgical Site
Depending on the severity of the disease or trauma, the incision site will have sutures or staples. These will be removed after a month or six weeks, again, depending on how well the incision heals. The surgical site will feel raised or thickened, that’s quite normal. Immediately after surgery, your leg might be elevated to help decrease swelling.
Phantom pain, swelling, tightness, and pain are common after all kinds of amputation surgeries.
Depending on how your healing goes and how well you respond to medication, your stay can last anywhere between 1 to 2 weeks. During this time IV medication will be administered for pain management and to mitigate the risk of clots forming.
Once the first 24 hours pass post-surgery, your doctor may suggest bringing the leg down. Gently rolling over to lie face-down is also commonly prescribed to avoid tightening at the hip.
Incision Care Tips
Taking good care of yourself post-surgery is one of the main things you can do to be out and about as soon as possible. Good self-care practices after the procedure increase above the knee prosthetic options available to you.
While post-op is definitely one of the most trying times you can go through, there are things that can help increase your comfort levels and manage pain better. Here are some post-surgical tips for above-the-knee amputees:
Using your compression stocking as prescribed by your medical care providers is one of the most important things you can do for your healing. That’ll help gently mold your leg into the optimal shape suitable for use of above the knee prosthetics.
It will also control swelling at the incision site. Typically, fitting for the compression stocking will be done before you leave the hospital post-op. You can start using the sock after 48 hours of the surgery once you clear it with your doctor.
Getting Fitted for Above The Knee Prosthetics
The process of adjusting to life without your limb will start the moment you open your eyes post-op. While it's definitely a difficult adjustment, it helps to remember that you have great options available for above the knee prosthetics.
The first piece of equipment you will use to help you maintain mobility after surgery is the Immediate Post-Operative Prosthesis (IPOP). Use this to start getting around as much as your doctor recommends. The IPOP also helps you heal by
Here is a breakdown of getting fitted for your above the knee prosthetic:
The first step will be getting a custom-made liner that’ll keep your limb securely cushioned. That’ll help attach your above the knee prosthetic to your limb and keep you comfortable while using your prosthesis.
The next step is getting your limb cast to help find the closest fit for your unique needs and limb shape. Once the cast is done, you’ll try on a few diagnostic socks to ensure optimal alignment between your limb and prosthesis. Once you finalize the socket that fits the best and feels comfortable, posture and gait training can be started.
The final step will be to weigh your options and make a final choice about which above the knee prosthetic will best suit your activity level and lifestyle. You’ll get plenty of help during this stage to make a well-informed decision. Contact Align Clinic now and we would be happy to guide you through any questions you may have.
Start Your Journey To Recovery Today
Amputation is difficult, and it’s crucial to go easy with yourself and take your healing one day at a time. Our professionals at Align Clinic know just how difficult this phase can be. Book an appointment with our representative today to discover all options available to you.
As its name suggests, the disorder is known as scoliosis causes the spine to bend inward, this being the stage in which wearing a scoliosis brace is necessary. Scoliosis is most common in young children just before puberty when they are going through a growth spurt. Scoliosis affects roughly 3% of adolescents. Muscular dystrophy and cerebral palsy can make scoliosis worse, although the specific etiology is uncertain.
1. What Are the Symptoms of Scoliosis?
Scoliosis usually does not produce symptoms. However, discomfort might develop in certain circumstances. Back pain may be caused by a variety of other factors, such as arthritis, the inability to stand up straight, weakness in core muscles, or a lack of training. These are just a few examples. If the lumbar spine's nerves are under pressure, then leg discomfort, numbness, and weakness might result as well.
In certain cases, body changes in scoliosis and when not wearing a scoliosis brace include:
If you suspect scoliosis and think you might need to wear a scoliosis brace, then make an appointment with your General Practitioner right at once. You should have it looked out, even though it's doubtful that anything severe is going on.
If the GP suspects that you have scoliosis and you might need to put on a scoliosis brace, they will recommend you to a doctor in the hospital for further evaluation. There, you will have back scans done to determine whether you have an abnormal curvature in the spine.
There are several treatment options available to those with scoliosis, so it's important to contact an expert in time.
3. Can Scoliosis Cause Complications?
Scoliosis, no matter how moderate or severe may be harmful to one's health. The lungs and heart may be pressed against the ribs by severe curvatures. If this happens, you might have a hard time breathing and your heart could be harmed.
Adults who had scoliosis as children are more likely to experience back pain in old age. It's also possible that the scoliosis symptoms have worsened. Initially, subtle symptoms might become more obvious as scoliosis progresses, affecting your child's look and self-confidence.
Scoliosis may progress to a 45-degree curvature at times. A doctor might undertake surgery to straighten and fuse the spine to fewer than 25 degrees to decrease the curvature. In children, scoliosis surgery has fewer dangers and doesn't cause too much pain.
4. How to Treat Early Scoliosis
Scoliosis might be treated nonoperatively in most adult instances. Treatments may include doctor's frequent examinations, over-the-counter pain medicines, and workouts that target the abs, spine, and flexibility. If you're a smoker, then you need to stop smoking, as degenerative processes may be accelerated by smoking.
Physical therapy and wearing a scoliosis brace are often prescribed by the doctor. They will help you keep or regain your strength and/or to alleviate your scoliosis symptoms.
Included on the list of physical therapy are:
Adult scoliosis might need surgery in certain circumstances. Because of the potential for serious side effects from spinal surgery, this is the final resort.
There are several reasons why surgery may be recommended:
When it comes to deciding whether to undergo surgery on an aesthetic abnormality, younger people are more likely to be swayed by this consideration.
Each patient's situation necessitates a different approach when it comes to spinal surgery. Scoliosis is a condition that occurs when the spine becomes misaligned and puts pressure on nearby nerves. Spinal stabilization surgery employs bone grafts and titanium implants to bind the spine together and stabilize it.
Computer-aided navigation systems and surgical methods have made it feasible to do less invasive procedures and reduce recuperation time.
Wearing a Scoliosis Brace
In many cases, wearing a scoliosis brace solves the problem to the extent that the disease no longer advances and even starts to show signs of improvement with time. Scoliosis braces can be worn at any age and by any person who suffers from this condition.
Keep Your Spine Safe!
Corrective procedures may be implemented if scoliosis is discovered early enough, often when the patient is a child or a toddler.
Spinal alignment and growth may be corrected with a scoliosis brace. In adolescents, scoliosis might need surgery to rectify the curvature that has already begun to harden the spine.
Many scoliosis patients can enjoy normal lives if diagnosed and treated early. Scoliosis that has gone untreated might worsen and lead to chronic pain that can be treated only with customized treatment strategies.
Contact us today if you have any questions about scoliosis.
Scoliosis progression can be slowed down when having an unhealthy diet and the body experiences hormone or neurotransmitter abnormalities. Scoliosis isn't caused by an inadequate diet on its own. And neither ending up with scoliosis bracing is caused by an imbalanced diet.
Either the children are born predisposed to mental illness, or they aren't. However, studies have shown a connection between the condition's progression and a lack of nourishment.
An inherited neuro-hormonal disorder, scoliosis may be passed down from one generation to another. The brain of the patient must send signals to muscles for spine straightening, as the spine develops wrongly.
Even when the child is healthy, their brain doesn't comprehend that its posture is out of alignment and therefore, it doesn't give any signals to the body. Scoliosis may develop because of misunderstandings like these, and then, wearing scoliosis bracing might be necessary.
Can Nutrition and Supplements Help Against Scoliosis?
1. Supplements That Help in Scoliosis
Many people with idiopathic scoliosis don't have enough Selenium in their blood, says Wiley InterScience research. Osteopontin (OPN), which governs the bone formation, has also been shown to be elevated in scoliosis patients. Deficiency in Selenium might be producing abnormal bone formation and higher OPN levels.
Every day, taking 200 mcg of Selenium or L-selenomethionine can reduce OPN levels. There is a chance that this will delay or stop the fast advancement of scoliosis.
Supplements that should be avoided after spinal fusion and even when wearing scoliosis bracing include that one.
After doing a nutritional assessment, further supplements that should be considered, are:
2. Improving the Diet
Scoliosis progression can be prevented by improving nutrition. Everyone can benefit from these dietary recommendations. Regardless of whether they have scoliosis or not, as well as whether they are wearing scoliosis bracing or they don’t.
Foods laced with preservatives and chemical additives have been shown to contribute to the development of a chronic inflammatory state. Stress triggers the release of cytokines, which in turn induces inflammation.
Bone loss occurs as a result over time. Hip fractures are 73% more common in those with elevated levels of inflammatory markers.
As a result, you'll have a considerably tougher difficulty keeping the spine in place if you've exhausted your muscles or have been wearing scoliosis bracing for a long time.
Muscles and bones are deprived of vital nutrients by several chemical additions. Salt, for example, causes the kidneys to excrete an excessive amount of Calcium. Calcium absorption is inhibited by soda and sugar.
A lack of bone mass may be caused by drinking alcohol, which also inhibits bone growth. Every 100 mg of caffeine leads to losing 6 mg of Calcium from bones.
Citric fruits and liquids should also be avoided, doctors are saying. Tomato juice as well. Vitamin C, which is found in citrus fruits, may stimulate the body to shift Calcium from bones into the bloodstream.
This weakens the skeletal system. So, people who suffer from scoliosis and especially those who are wearing scoliosis bracing might benefit from any formula for strong bones.
Losing weight while also preventing or slowing the advancement of the spinal curvature may feel like an impossible task. Reading product labels is a good place to begin. It's possible that people don't even know how much sugar, salt, or other preservatives they're consuming. Healthier alternatives like whole-grain flours are always best.
Eat as many vegetables as possible, as well as fruits that are grown without the use of pesticides. Non-organic foods are most of the time tainted by carcinogens, pesticides, hormone disruptors, developmental toxins, and neurotoxins.
3. Foods to Avoid
Below is a list of foods to avoid when suffering from scoliosis, whether the condition requires wearing scoliosis bracing or not.
· Wine, beer, and spirits
· White flour
· All soy products, soy milk included
· Sugar – it can be replaced with Stevia
· Salt is OK only in little doses, provided it is sea salt
· Chocolate, only if it's dark and in small amounts
· Frozen or deep-fried dishes, notably from fast-food chains
· Corn syrup
· Food chemicals and preservatives from pre-packaged luncheon meats
· MSG and some other additives such as Gelatin, Monosodium Glutamate, Calcium Caseinate, HVP, Textured Protein, Monopotassium Glutamate, HPP, Yeast Extract, Glutamate, Autolyzed Plant Protein, and others
Alleviate Scoliosis Pain Through Healthy Eating
Scoliosis therapy may benefit greatly from a healthy diet. The capacity to train the brain so that the posture is corrected and the spinal curvature gets minimized is essential for healing successes in the long run.
More improvement can be achieved when neurotransmitters become restored to their normal levels. You can reach us here if you have more questions regarding this article.
Scoliosis bracing for adults could make sense at an adult age, but after many years down the road, how could surgery be avoided?
Often, parents of children with scoliosis are rushed into making a choice before they have the time to gather the information needed to make informed decisions about long-term therapies for scoliosis.
How Do Scoliosis Treatments Affect Patients in the Long Run?
Below are the long-term therapies for scoliosis and how these affect patients:
1. Back Bracing
A 12-year-old scoliosis patient's muscles on the back had deteriorated so much that she was unable to stand on her own. After many years, most of those who wear scoliosis bracing for adults are required to wear braces for more than 20 hours every day.
That long-term stress on a child's body might lead to irreversible physical changes.
Bracing, on the other hand, doesn't correct long-term curvature. The curve size of patients changes when they start wearing braces. But, only a few have a significant increase in their curves' size. For example, the average curve can increase by 4 degrees over the course of 25 years after wearing scoliosis bracing for adults.
Scoliosis bracing for adults may have detrimental long-term repercussions, such as:
2. Spinal Fusion Surgery
After spinal fusion, most patients have long-term problems. Scoliosis surgery can cause implants to fail or get dislodged, which results in spinal damage and the need for numerous procedures to correct it. Deep infections can occur even after 10 years from surgery.
Scoliosis surgery does not have any long-term repercussions. However, just 1 in 3 people who undergo surgery retain many of its advantages in the next 10 years. 1 in 5 patients may need further surgery. Spinal fusion surgery also has long-term problems, such as:
There are alternatives to bracing for children or scoliosis bracing for adults and surgery. Activity suits stabilize or improve curves in 9 out of 10 patients. 2 out of every 3 children who wear a suit see a drop in the size of their curve. The advantages of wearing activity suits are:
There is a tendency to focus only on the scoliosis problem when trying to treat it. The first objective shouldn't be beating the evolution of the curve. Consider the long-term impact on quality of life while deciding on a long-term treatment strategy.
If you have any questions about scoliosis not covered in this article, feel free to reach out and we’ll be happy to help.
Bracing may be the non-surgical approach to treat idiopathic scoliosis so far proven. Yet, exercise is also a reliable method to keep your back flexible. It keeps the spine strong and encourages excellent posture.
This article will look into the following:
What Is Scoliosis?
Scoliosis is the lateral spine curvature, most often affecting teenagers. This disease may develop in adults who have cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy. Most cases of juvenile scoliosis, however, have unclear causes.
Scoliosis is usually moderate, although certain curvatures increase when children grow older. Scoliosis can lead to disability in children. In severe cases, the curvature of the spine reduces the space in the chest. The lungs could stop working correctly.
Mild scoliosis patients are generally followed by regular X-rays. This is for assessing whether the curvature is worsening. In many circumstances, there is no need for therapy or to wear a scoliosis brace designed by an orthotist.
However, doctors may recommend that a child wear a Kid's scoliosis brace to prevent the curvature from getting worse. Whereas adults must wear a scoliosis adult brace. Others could need surgery to correct extreme spine curvature.
Scoliosis manifests itself in diverse ways but here are the common scoliosis symptoms:
Scoliosis may lead to more obvious abnormalities like
Patients with scoliosis often feel self-conscious about their appearance. Especially when the case has worsened, they need to wear a brace.
Doctors aren't sure what causes prevalent scoliosis cases. The disease, however, relates to inherited factors. Most times, the condition runs in families. There are other known causes for scoliosis, including:
The following factors can put you at risk for scoliosis:
For patients with scoliosis, the goal of exercise and physical therapy is to relieve pain and improve posture. Your doctor or physical therapist can devise an exercise program for you. You’ll probably do a series of stretches and strengthening movements to help reverse the curve in your spine.
Here are the 4 scoliosis exercises that should be performed as often as possible or necessary:
The abdominal muscles will be strengthened because of this exercise. The exercise is best done on a mat.
The tendons and muscles supporting the spine get to be stretched with this workout.
This is a stretch that can help release the lat muscles to strengthen them. These might be feeling tight in scoliosis.
Scoliosis is a potentially harmful condition. It makes living more difficult, but finding relief might be simpler than you think.
Additionally, scoliosis poses different obstacles according to age and severity. Scoliosis is more than a physical problem. It might also influence mental health like the ability to take part in activities.
However, with the support of qualified specialists and minimally invasive non-surgical solutions like the exercises mentioned in this article, you can manage scoliosis and possibly avoid wearing a scoliosis brace.
Those who aren't candidates for surgery will always have these alternative options useful. Consult your doctor to determine if these exercises for strengthening the back are recommended for you or if you must see an orthotist.
You’re probably considering a foot brace as a treatment option for your child’s mobility issues. If that’s the case, we’ve got you covered. Here’s a complete guide on AFO treatment, orthotics types, and maintenance requirements for children’s AFO braces.
What is an AFO?
An ankle-foot orthosis or AFO is a brace that supports the lower limb. It’s designed for managing various conditions of the ankle and foot. Moreover, it helps regulate the alignment of joints, eases the physical functioning of the affected part, and gait correction.
What Are the Types of Orthotics?
Different types of orthotics are available in the market, each designed to address specific needs. Some of them allow movement, while others have a design that restricts movement. Your choice will depend on the nature and severity of the injury or disorder. . Let’s look at some of the most common AFOs.
1. Dynamic Ankle-Foot Orthosis
Called DAFO for short, these orthotics are slender, lightweight, and flexible. It’s used for treating conditions like spasms in the lower limb area in adults. Yet it can help children with clubfoot, spina bifida, cerebral palsy, and muscular dystrophy. Extensive trials and research shows that DAFOs improve motor skills among children.
2. Static Ankle-Foot Orthosis
It’s an AFO that immobilizes the ankle and foot completely — hence, it is also known as the rigid AFO or solid AFO. Podiatrists often prescribe these AFOs for children who have extreme pronation of the foot. Excessive pronation occurs when the foot's arch has fallen inwards or downwards.
3. Hinged Ankle-Foot Orthosis
Also called articulated AFOs, they enable free movement in the ankle region while stabilizing the foot. The adjustable hinge at the ankle can allow healthcare practitioners to set the required level of flexibility. Articulated AFOs are useful in treating conditions like flat feet but not suitable if your kid has diabetes.
Difference Between a Regular AFO and a Pediatric AFOs
Pediatric AFO's designs make them convenient for children. . For instance, they are big enough r to accommodate growth spurts and changes in the alignment values of the foot. The heel seats are deep, and the undercuts are reduced to better support kids’ foot architecture than regular AFO. Finally, there are colorful options that make them bright and fun.
When Does Your Child Need an AFO?Your podiatrist (foot doctor) may suggest AFO for your child if they identify any lower limb problems that affect the kid’s regular routine. Here are some common conditions that doctors often treat with AFOs.
1. Lower Limb Injury
AFOs promote healing in kids suffering from a fracture or sprain near the ankle region. Besides, it can also mitigate pain after a surgical procedure.
2. Cerebral Palsy
It’s a disorder that impacts the child’s ability to maintain balance and posture. In cerebral palsy, the brain struggles to communicate with the muscular structure, causing muscle cramps and involuntary movement of the body. AFOs give children with cerebral palsy the help to perform motor movements such as running and jumping.
3. Foot Drop
It’s a muscular condition in which your child might face difficulties raising the forefoot. A study conducted in Edinburgh’s Queen Margaret University shows that most patients with multiple sclerosis and foot drop who used AFOs saw improvement.
4. Hypotonia and Hypertonia
Hypotonia results in a loss of muscle mass, and hypertonia manifests as a high level of tension in muscles. . Although there is no conclusive evidence to show that AFOs are effective for children with hypertonia and hypotonia, the results are far better when AFOs are combined with physical therapy.
5. Spina Bifida
It’s a congenital condition in which the spinal cord is not developed correctly, leading to paralysis of the lower limbs. An AFO could improve gait and increase energy expenditure among children with spina bifida.
Tips for Maintaining Pediatric AFOs
Caring for a child's pediatric AFO is no more complicated than maintaining your favorite pair of shoes. Follow these tips to improve the efficacy and longevity of the device.
1. Clean It Regularly
Fortunately, cleaning an AFO isn’t a tedious task. You just have to apply liquid soap and rinse the device with clean water. It’s that simple. You can use a towel to pat dry or simply leave it under the fan. Don’t use other heat sources, such as hair-dryers and flat irons, as they can cause damage to the AFO.
2. Lubricate the Brace
If the AFO has metallic joints, you need to lubricate them periodically or, as suggested by your orthotist, to keep them in good condition.
3. Get It Checked Periodically
Get the orthotics checked up regularly. It’s essential to account for various factors like usage duration and wear & tear for course correction. That’s important for your kid's everyday lifestyle and could help speed up the healing process.
4. Inform Your Orthotist If There are Any Issues
The ankles need some time to adjust. At times, there are chances of getting redness around the skin, which should ideally disappear once your child gets used to the same. However, if there is persistent discomfort, pain, blisters, or other issues, consult your orthotist immediately. More importantly, avoid adjusting the brace yourself.
Choosing the Best AFO for Your Child
Your decision can make a profound difference in everyday life of your kid. The perfect AFO can help them participate in activities with other children. For them, this sense of freedom and support is quite liberating.
At Align Clinic, we focus on designing customized AFO braces for adults and children. To create the right treatment strategy based on your child’s condition, our well-qualified orthotics will assess and suggest whether to go for a standard pediatric AFO or a customized one. Please reach out to us to schedule a consultation with our experts.
Plagiocephaly, Brachycephaly, and Scaphocephaly: How Can Cranial Bands Help in Treating These Conditions?
Infants often have skull deformations due to a number of reasons. This is commonly known as flat head syndrome. But you don’t have to worry in most cases? Studies suggest that nearly all infants have a small degree of deformation in the skull.
On the other hand, when the deformation is beyond normal, it can lead to many developmental issues. It includes ADHD, ADD, issues with speech, slow motor movement, aversion to social interaction, and more.
These flat head syndromes are either congenital or acquired — based on whether they developed the condition in the womb or after birth. It is of three types:
1. Plagiocephaly: It’s the flattening of the skull’s back on the side. Typically, it’s a consequence of your baby lying on the back with its head exerting more pressure on one side. At times, it is seen when there isn’t enough fluid in the mother’s amniotic sac. The condition is more likely to occur if the baby is delivered prematurely or is having growth issues.
2. Brachycephaly: It’s the flattening of the skull’s back, and the cause is often linked to the baby lying on the back for long spells. Just like plagiocephaly, it can also occur if there aren’t enough amniotic sac fluids in the mother’s womb. At times, it occurs when there are two or more fetuses in the womb.
3. Scaphocephaly: This is the rarest of the three conditions. The skull’s side is fattened to create an elongation of sorts. It’s caused when the baby lays on its side for many hours in its initial months. Babies who are in the neonatal ICU for a long time tend to develop this condition since they spend a lot of time lying on their side. Although rare, it can also occur due to physical exertion when the baby is in the womb.
Now that we have an idea about flat head syndrome and the ways in which it develops, let’s look at the use of cranial bands to treat them.
When Does Your Baby Need a Cranial Band?
A cranial remolding helmet or a cranial band is called so because it is used to correct the cranium portion of the human brain. It’s worth noting that cranial bands and helmets are a bit different in their appearance and nature of use, but for the sake of the article, we’ll use them interchangeably.
A 2188 patient study conducted at Claude-Bernard University showed that by using a cranial helmet, nearly 4 in 5 babies with a severe flat head condition saw improvements. On the contrary, there are studies that show they don’t bring about any significant changes. Either way, using a cranial band will not harm your child’s growth in any way.
Tips to Make the Process Easier
As is the case with any medical device, there are a few good practices to be followed if your kid is going to wear a cranial helmet. Here are the most important ones.
1. Consult the Experts
Does the current plagiocephalic condition warrant a helmet? Do thorough research about your child’s condition and get them treated in the best possible manner. While you can consult blogs and other parents who went through the same process, your doctor’s advice should be given due importance. After all, it’s their medical expertise that is going to help your child’s flat head condition improve.
2. Make It Fun
Your child should want to wear a helmet. Give it a name, some colors, and a personality to it. Make it an enjoyable activity for them by playing their favorite music, reading a story they like, or simply by bringing out their favorite toy. When you start associating the helmet with positive things, your child will start doing the same.
3. Regular Maintenance
Remember, cranial helmets are not like your kid’s regular clothing. Clean any dirt on the helmet from time to time. It’s best to use your child’s soaps and shampoos to wash the helmet to avoid any allergic reactions. If you feel the helmet smells a lot, you can use scented baby products (ones made of tea tree oil and the likes). Finally, follow the instructions given by your orthotist.
4. Commit to the Process
Making an infant wear extra apparel is never going to be easy. So, brace yourself for all the struggle. Don’t stop using the helmet because it’s too inconvenient or yields social pressures. Ideally, your child should be wearing a cranial band for over 22 hours a day.
Your infant’s brain size doubles in size by their second birthday. So, even if you miss a single growth spurt, it will undo all the efforts of wearing the helmet. Meet your doctors and orthotists periodically. Based on developments happening in your child, they might want to change the process or make tweaks to the helmet.
If you’re not comfortable with the treatment prescribed by your doctors or orthotist, you can opt for physical therapy instead. Ensure that the therapist you approach is capable and has experience working with children. Whether it’s cranial helmets or physical therapy, focus on what’s best for the child while keeping your beliefs and social pressures aside.
Looking for the ideal infant cranial band for your child? Contact us at Align Clinic. With the help of skilled doctors and brilliant medical engineering minds, we’ll take care of your pediatric orthosis needs in the best possible manner. Meet us at a clinic near you today.
The ankle-foot orthosis (AFO) is an important personal asset that enables you to move around quickly. Millions of people use it too, so don't feel as though you are different. Instead, embrace your uniqueness and take good care of it as recommended by your orthotist to get maximum utility from it.
Here are nine expert tips on how to take care of your ankle-foot orthosis.
1. Practice Makes Perfect
It's normal to find it challenging to walk for long distances while wearing an AFO at first. As with anything else in life, practice makes perfect, and soon you will learn the ropes and be able to walk comfortably. Embrace the learning process and work cordially with your physiotherapist.
Take baby steps to give your body enough time to adjust. For example, start by wearing the brace for 30 minutes to one hour before taking it off and resting. Gradually increase the length of time to wear the brace and the distance covered until you get fully accustomed to it.
2. Wear the Right Shoe
First-time users often assume that they can wear it with any shoe.
You will experience discomfort if you wear the AFO with the same shoes you used before. Experts recommend wearing a lace-up shoe that comfortably accommodates the ankle orthosis and your foot.
That is, the shoe should leave enough room for the ankle orthosis to move around when walking. It's also important to consider the height of the heel. Ideally, the heel size should be the same. If not, it will affect the alignment of the AFO and make walking unnecessarily stressful.
3. Wear Quality Cotton Socks
Enhance comfort by wearing quality cotton socks. The socks will create a cushioning barrier between your skin and the material. The socks should be long enough to cover the entire length of the AFO and roll over the edge. That will prevent it from sliding down when walking.
The thicker the socks, the better. During winter and humid weather conditions, it's advisable to apply baby powder on the leg before wearing the sock. That’ll help to reduce friction and accumulation of moisture. You can change the socks several times depending on the distance you walk.
4. Be Open to Making Adjustments
The orthotist will adjust the ankle-foot orthosis to ensure that it fits you well. That's normal, so please don't fret if the AFO doesn't fit you right at first. The prosthetics and orthotics professionals at the facility will make careful adjustments to find the ideal fit for you.
5. Lookout for Pressure Areas
The AFO exerts pressure on your ankle, and you may feel some discomfort during the initial stages. Red spots will develop on the affected skin sections due to reduced blood circulation due to pressure.
Be on the lookout for these pressure areas and contact the orthotist if the redness does not disappear after 15 minutes. The orthotist may advise you to wear a different cotton socks brand to protect the pressure areas. The size of the AFO may also be adjusted to match your foot size.
6. Consider Lubricating your AFO
Friction between the metal joints can affect the movement of the AFO as you walk. Reduce it by lubricating the joints using the recommended lubricant. Consult your orthotist to know which is the ideal lubricant.
7. Keep it Clean
Your AFO has different thermoplastic components. Over time, they accumulate dust and grime, so it's only prudent that you take time off your busy schedule to clean it several times per week. The frequency is dependent on how often to wear it and the distance covered.
Clean the thermoplastic parts using mild soapy water and a soft sponge. Remember to rinse the parts before wearing the AFO again. More importantly, you shouldn't soak it in water as some parts are not water tolerant.
8. Avoid Using Direct Heat Sources to Dry the AFO
Some AFO components cannot withstand extreme temperatures, so you should avoid drying them using direct heat sources such as a hairdryer. Leave them to dry at room temperature before wearing them again.
If you are in a hurry, use a towel to dry out the water and any soap residue. You can also use a fan to dry it faster, but be careful not to bring the fan too close to the brace as some fans emit heat.
9. Refrain from Adjusting the AFO Yourself
It's tempting to adjust the size of the AFO to save time that you would have spent driving to the prosthetics and orthotics facility. Refrain from making any adjustment and instead book an appointment with your orthotist
Licensed orthotists have the skills and expertise required to adjust the AFO based on the pressure areas identified and the size of your foot.
Cooperate with them to get the ideal fit and avoid unnecessary trips to the facility.
Types of Ankle-Foot Orthosis
Now that you know how to take good care of your AFO, let us dive in and look at the three common types of AFOs, shall we?
1. Dynamic AFO
Dynamic AFO is made from a quality thin thermoplastic that offers ample support to the patient's foot. This plastic material is flexible, and this helps the patient maintain circumferential control and neutral alignment of the foot. It's used to correct mild ankle and foot deformities that require minimal/passive force.
2. Articulated or Hinged AFO
An articulated AFO has a hinge around the plantarflexion stop and ankle that allows controlled movement of the foot. The orthotic adjusts the hinge to suit the size of the foot and the condition being treated.
For adequate stability, it's advisable to wear this type of AFO with a Velcro-closure or laced shoe. It's commonly used to correct medial instability.
3. Rigid AFO
The rigid AFO is designed to cover the entire back of the leg and hinders any movement of the affected ankle. It provides ample stability to the ankle and foot by creating toe clearance as the patient swings the foot.
It’s usually used on children with cerebral palsy and below 10 degrees of ankle dorsiflexion when the knee is extended fully.
Ankle-foot orthosis will enable you to walk again by offering plenty of support to the affected ankle. Be sure to adhere to the instructions and recommendations provided by your orthotist to benefit fully from the brace. We wish you a speedy recovery and hope to see you soon!
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