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!
Have a tough time moving your feet or legs? Perhaps you’re suffering from neurological or muscular issues, which invite conditions like foot drop, resulting in affected legs movement. As a result, some people drag their feet while walking.
If left untreated, results include permanent immobility, chronic pain, and other life-threatening issues. A reliable solution is to wear a walkaide. Many doctors recommend walkaide for footdrop patients. Let’s look at what a walkaide is and how it functions.
What’s A Walkaide and What Does It Cure?
Walkaide is a functional electronic stimulation (FES) device to help patients facing walking issues due to foot drop.
Footdrop is caused due to:
Walkaide FES System Working ExplainedPatients should wear a walkaide device under the knee in the calf region. It uses sensor technology to analyze leg and foot movements and create a unique stimulation pattern for the patient.
It then sends Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) signal to the peroneal nerve, responsible for supplying sensation to the feet, legs, and toes. Such stimulation helps activate Tibialis Anterior (the muscle that helps lift the foot). Hence, your foot will function normally.
5 Benefits of Using A Walkaide
Before purchasing a walkaide, let’s look at some of its advantages.
1. Wireless Connectivity
A walkaide device is wireless that helps the patient walk freely without tangling wires. It’s battery-operated, so you need to charge it before using it.
2. Easy Operation
There’s no need to have technical knowledge or skills to use a walkaide. It’s compact, and anyone, be it a child or a senior citizen, can use it without help.
3. No Switch Required
Walkaide uses tilt sensors that signal your brain, which is needed to move. There’s no switch requirement as the patient can move freely without issues.
4. Ensures Fast Walking Without Fatigue
Patients will notice a vast difference in walking before and after wearing a walkaide. Their movement will be better controlled to help them walk comfortably. They’ll be able to walk faster without getting tired after wearing walkaide.
5. Comfortable and Discreet
A walkaide is comfortable to wear. It won’t irritate the legs allowing patients to walk miles with it. The compact size means anyone can be easily concealed.
Modes of Walkaide for Rehab
1. Tilt Mode
The patient can increase their sensorimotor abilities through tilt mode. It helps enhance the swinging power of legs and feet. Hence, you’ll notice an improved walking pace.
2. Hand Mode
TheIn the hand mode, your hand mode enables shifting weight between extensor and flexor tones. Also, during initial gait training, you can learn to control your stepping and swing reflections.
3. Heel Mode
The sudden weight transfer between the muscles while sitting and standing is painful for patients suffering from foot drop. The heel mode helps train your legs to function smoothly during such activities. Try walking in parallel bars to improve your motor skills.
4. Exercise Mode
You can gain muscle strength through exercise mode. Also, it’ll help improve blood circulation in your legs. Use this mode during home exercises for quick improvement.
Difference Between Aalkaide and AFO
Both AFO and walkaide help solve immobility in the leg or foot of a patient. Still, there’s a massive difference between the two devices, which we’ll cover below.
Area Of Use
A walkaide is used under the knees over the calf. It sends electrical signals to the nervous system that helps improve the movement of and legs.
AFO (Ankle-Foot Orthosis) is worn on the ankle area. It comes in a unique L-shaped design, whose braces are available in a Swedish brace, carbon fiber brace, a plastic brace, and more.
Walkaide & AFO During Gait Cycle
During the Gait cycle (when one foot comes in contact with the ground periodically), the walkaide uses an electric stimulus to relieve your foot in case of foot drop.
AFO doesn’t use the FES system to work. It supports the foot during the gait cycle and prevents it from dragging.
A walkaide is a blessing for footdrop patients or any other issues that cause immobility in the legs or foot. A person should seek immediate medical help if facing any walking issues.
Walking issues can also occur in children, but that doesn’t stop in their lives or restrict them from doing daily tasks. Equipment like walkaide eases their lives as much as possible.
Consult your physician before buying a device. If you’re unsatisfied with a walkaide, use an AFO. Learn more about AFOs on the blog here.
Certain deformities can cause body bones to shift or take a new shape. Some of these deformities include pectus carinatum and scoliosis. Unfortunately, these medical conditions can quickly worsen if one doesn’t pay adequate attention to rectify the situation.
The optimal development of your body or child’s body lies in how well you take note of any deformity. Once you identify one, you can take the proper steps to fix it. This article will discuss pectus carinatum and scoliosis as two common deformities you should know about.
Pectus Carinatum is a deformity that propels the breastbone outward instead of being aligned with the chest. You can also find this deformity referred to as ‘keel chest’ or ‘pigeon chest.’ If you see a person’s chest wall with a visible outward appearance, this might be a cause. That’s because the cartilage triggers unequal growth in the rib region.
The bone appearance might be more evident for some people on one side than the other. In this case, the other side appears to have a dip, which is medically known as ‘pectus excavatum.’
The most conspicuous symptom of pectus carinatum is the outward appearance of the breastbone. Nevertheless, there are other symptoms you might experience.
Pectus Carinatum generally comes in two forms, as described below:
Chondrogladiolar Prominence: This is the form of pectus carinatum that causes the lower and middle regions of the breastbone to shoot out. Also known as ‘chicken breast,’ this is the most common medical condition.
Chondromanubrial Prominence: This pectus carinatum type causes the breastbone to have the shape of Z. As opposed to Chondrogladiolar Prominence, this condition is rare. Some also refer to it as ‘Pouter pigeon breast.’
Diagnosing pectus carinatum requires the services of an expert — a doctor. Since this has to do with bone, you’ll likely first have to do an X-ray showing the present condition of your chest area. That provides the doctor with the needed insight to see if any part is abnormally shaped.
Other crucial tests that may come up during the procedure include computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans. These are most useful when the doctor is considering surgery.
The doctor will also check for related conditions such as Marfan syndrome and scoliosis in some instances. Scoliosis is another deformity that affects a bone in the body and can cause it to grow abnormally.
When you see someone using a scoliosis brace or pectus carinatum brace, they have any of these medical conditions. Scoliosis, just like pectus carinatum, causes abnormality in bone growth. However, while the latter has to do with the chest region, scoliosis appears on the spine. The medical condition can cause the spine to grow far from the standard curve.
The ultimate determinant of scoliosis symptoms is the degree of the medical condition. The higher the degree, the more acute the symptoms.
Nevertheless, the symptoms generally include:
Scoliosis comes in different forms, determined mainly by the age group in question. Generally, the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS) confirms that the most common form of scoliosis is adolescent idiopathic scoliosis.
The medical condition can also be categorized as follows:
Bracing Solutions for Pectus Carinatum and Scoliosis
Bracing is perhaps the most effective way to address pectus carinatum and scoliosis, also known as orthosis, especially when these conditions are still mild. Concerning pectus carinatum, a custom-fitted brace designed for the chest area will do.
How a brace works is simple. Orthotists build these devices to support the area that requires attention. This form of support places pressure on the region and gradually gets it back into shape. A child using a pectus carinatum brace will have to do so for about 8 hours per day. This should be based on the doctor’s instructions. Depending on the degree of the medical condition, a child suffering pectus carinatum might have to use a brace until puberty.
Similarly, addressing scoliosis also involves the use of a scoliosis brace. You can get a scoliosis brace for adults and children. This device is designed to support the spine and prevent the abnormal curve from worsening. Doing this early also reduces your likelihood of surgery. A scoliosis brace remains the available option to mitigate the medical condition.
Another option available for treating scoliosis is Schroth therapy. This therapy involves using specially-designed exercises to correct the spine and restore it to its original position. If you want to go the Schroth therapy way, you must be ready to exercise a great deal of patience and consistency. Additionally, nothing stops you from leveraging these exercises to complement using a scoliosis brace.
Final Thoughts on Pectus Carinatum and Scoliosis
The first step towards treating pectus carinatum or scoliosis is identifying the medical condition. As discussed in this article, a doctor is all you need for this. Following a couple of tests, you’ll have the confirmation you require.
After that, you can determine the best bracing solutions based on your body preferences and needs. Whether scoliosis bracing for adults or pectus carinatum bracing for children, these solutions will help you address the medical condition as quickly as practical.
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