A KAFO or knee-ankle-foot orthosis is a specially molded plastic shell with metal uprights and knee joints designed to provide corrective and supportive functions to the ankle, foot, and knee areas. It can improve posture, body alignment, mobility, and bone and muscle strength. It also increases independence and confidence levels in patients.
Whether you're a patient, caregiver, or healthcare professional, this post covers everything you need to know about KAFO, from its design and function to its benefits and limitations.
How to Put on a KAFO
Here is a simple process for putting on a KAFO:
Although KAFOs are designed to be worn for extended periods, they must be removed occasionally for activities like bathing, sleeping, and skin inspection. Proper KAFO removal technique is essential to prevent injury and ensure the long-term effectiveness of the device.
Follow these steps to remove your KAFO safely:
How to Take Care of Your KAFO
Ensuring the proper upkeep of your KAFO is crucial. To maintain it, use a damp cloth to clean and towel dry. Avoid exposing it to direct heat. If you notice any wear and tear on the hook and loop straps, linings, or padding, contact your orthotic facility for repair. Additionally, attend the clinic annually for knee joint service or as per your orthotist's instructions.
Types of KAFOs
KAFOs, or knee-ankle-foot orthoses, come in various types that cater to the diverse needs of patients. Different types of KAFOs available, each with its specific features and benefits.
1. Total Surface Bearing/Thermoplastic KAFOs
Total Surface Bearing (TSB) or Thermoplastic KAFOs are commonly prescribed for patients with a flaccid or weak lower limb requiring full leg support. These KAFOs are custom-made from a mold of the patient's leg using a thermoplastic material that becomes pliable when heated.
The mold creates a socket that distributes pressure evenly over the leg's surface, reducing the risk of skin irritation or pressure sores. These KAFOs also provide medial and lateral support to the knee and ankle joints, making them an effective option for patients who need joint stability.
Here are some advantages of Total Surface Bearing/Thermoplastic KAFOs:
Here are some potential disadvantages of Total Surface Bearing/Thermoplastic KAFOs:
Stance Phase Control (SPC) KAFOs are designed to provide stability and control during the stance phase of walking. They are typically prescribed for patients with weakness or paralysis of the quadriceps muscle, which can cause knee buckling or collapse during weight-bearing activities.
SPC KAFOs use a combination of mechanical joints and spring mechanisms to provide the necessary support and stability for the patient. They are usually custom-made to ensure a proper fit and function for each patient's needs. SPC KAFOs are an effective orthotic solution for patients with gait abnormalities caused by quadriceps weakness or paralysis.
Here are s few advantages of SPC KAFOs:
Here are the main disadvantages of Stance Phase Control KAFOs:
Knee orthotics have the potential to greatly reduce pain and improve mobility, enabling individuals to maintain an active lifestyle. You can make wise decisions regarding treatment options with the information provided in this guide.
At Align Clinic, we strive to assist patients in selecting the most appropriate option for their needs. Contact us today and we’ll be happy to help you find an optimal solution for your knee pain.
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