Can Ankle Foot Orthosis Help Improve Walking Difficulties?

ankle foot orthosis

The ankle and foot assist the body with daily functions like balance and mobility. From the time the feet touch the ground in the morning when a person gets out of bed until they lie down later, they will rely on their foot and ankle. 

Unfortunately, there are some medical conditions like polio, stroke, or hemiplegia that could influence the integrity of the muscles or the joints, and this will, in turn, make daily tasks a lot more challenging to complete.  

Even so, medical devices like ankle foot orthosis (AFO) will assist these patients in regaining some of the stability in these joints and make movement less cumbersome. With that, below is more information on how these orthoses can help patients improve their walking difficulties:

It Corrects The Foot And Ankle Position

Depending on the patient’s needs, a technician will assist them by customizing an orthotic device for their specific circumstances. They will cast mold from the patient’s ankle and foot which they will use to design and create the final orthotic piece. 

ankle foot injury

And because there is a wide array of health concerns that may require ankle foot orthosis, there are many different types of AFOs that the patients and their doctors can consider. 

The technicians will construct the final product from sturdy materials like plastic, metal, graphite mesh, or any combination thereof. 

These materials are essential to hold the ankle and foot in the correct position so the patient with limited control over them can walk easily and comfortably.

Provides Support To Ankle And Foot

Patients with loss of function in their muscles or where the muscles are too weak to support their surrounding joints will need external help. Along with keeping the joints in the proper position, AFOs will step in to provide the support that the muscles can no longer provide. 

Again, the type of material the technician will use for the design will impact the amount of support the orthosis can provide. It also strongly depends on the shape and form, as some orthoses contain artificial joints and straps that provide a more flexible option.

Reduces The Chance For Pressure Sores

Muscle weakness could add pressure to some areas of the ankle or foot without the patient noticing it. With reduced sensation in the area, blood circulation could reduce simultaneously, which causes the formation of pressure ulcers

Unless these patients consciously try to keep their limbs in the correct posture and not put too much pressure on them, they will have to care for an additional sore that may take weeks to heal fully. Since the ankle-foot orthosis keeps the foot in the correct position, it relieves the pressure off the areas that may suffer and helps the person to walk with less pain.

kid with feet injury

Can Be Worn With Regular Footwear

Some doctors may recommend that their patients wear a specific type of shoe, some will have pressure stockings, and others could have even more specialized care for their health. On the other hand, walking could be comfortable and less tiring when the person receives their AFO. 

The custom-made design ensures that the orthosis fits perfectly around the patient’s ankle and foot and could, therefore, fit into their everyday footwear too. Instead of getting used to new types of footwear, the patient can improve their walking issues when combining their footwear and orthosis correctly.

Can Do Regular Activities With It

Doctors prescribe orthoses to assist in improving function, not to hinder it. On the contrary, patients could even resume some activities they used to love before their health made it impossible for them to enjoy them. Patients may have mobility devices that give them some range of movement, but these patients can only fully enjoy their activities once they consider using an orthotic device. 

ankle foot device

Walking with children around the park, taking the dog for a walk, going across the street to the supermarket – these are all tasks that patients with an ankle foot orthosis can make part of their day again without fearing that they could misstep or lose their balance.

Final Thoughts

Orthosis seems like a cumbersome addition that a person would have to learn to live with, but for the patients that wear them, that isn’t true at all—restoring their function to be as close as how they were functioning before means more than anything. 

Having a foot or ankle that won’t do what they want it to could cause more frustration, but once they receive their orthosis, they see a whole new world of mobility opening up to them. Walking improves in leaps and bounds, and the patients feel more empowered as they can finally do more for themselves again. In the end, ankle foot orthosis could be one of the best decisions these patients can make.