ankle foot Orthotics (AFO's)

Custom ankle foot orthotics

The Sport Orthotics team based in The Treatment Hub clinic in Hamilton near Glasgow and also our specialist biomechanical assessment clinic in Glasgow have been involved in the assessment and manufacture of Ankle foot orthotics (AFO's) for over 25 years.

Our Specialist Orthotists are involved in Specialist foot and ankle clinics with Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeons, Podiatrists and Physiotherapists. We even have specialist neurological clinical experience on both Adult neurological clinics and specialist Paediatric orthotics.

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Ankle foot orthotics (or orthoses) are very specifically designed for conditions that require increased control and support other than just the foot. The height of these particular orthotics allow increased control over the ankle, knee and hip. AFO's do this by changing the biomechanics of the leg and facilitating a normal biomechanics walking pattern.

A key part of providing Ankle foot orthotics (AFO's) is the biomechanical assessment. Patients with neurological conditions require a specialist neurobiomechanical assessment.

There are only a very few private biomechanics clinics that have access to experts in this area. Our clinics in Hamilton, Glasgow and Aberdeen are some of the very few in the country with this specialist knowledge. This where the true specialist skills of an Orthotist become valuable in assessing the most appropriate design for the presenting condition and their knowledge in orthotic design and biomechanical principles.

These orthotics are preferably custom made for each individual patient to ensure that they are optimally aligned to maximise their fit and biomechanical effect.

Our private orthotics clinic near Glasgow frequently treats patients with biomechanical issues requiring this type of orthotic treatment.

What conditions can AFO's help?

Stroke (Cerebrovascular accident)

Following a stroke the movements of the body can be affected often on one side in particular (hemiplegia). The issues for patients following stroke are often related to increased tone or spaticity of the muscles meaning it can be difficult t control movements of the body.

In particular the arm and leg can be affected where the arm tends to be bent at the elbow and wrist and pulled up toward the body. The leg often in walking tends to have difficulty as the foot points downwards (foot drop) due to spasticity. Normal biomechanics is lost as the foot cannot clear the ground when swinging through, and when weightbearing, the forefoot make contact first and the knee leans back (knee hyperextension).

Ankle foot orthotics (AFO's) are designed to re-position the foot in both swing and stance phase, helpng the foot move in a more controlled fashion. It is important that the Orthotist has a good understanding of biomechanics and that custom made ankle foot orthotics are used to control the biomechanics very precisely.

Cerebal Palsy (CP)

Cerebal Palsy refers to a group of conditions which present in children at or around birth. In general terms the issues can be similar to a stroke however can present in a greater variety of different ways. Movement of the legs and arms can be affected and often spasticity or increased tone is also present.

The big difference between CP and stroke is that children with cerebral palsy have the added complication of growth and development coupled with managing spasticity.

The same biomechanical issues are present as in stroke but the Orthotist, must also consider the effect of growth which further complicates the orthotic management. Any Orthotist needs to have a good understanding of child development, before treating patients.

Ankle foot orthotics (AFO's) and Dynamic AFO's (DAFO's) are used in a variety of different ways to treat and help improve movement and prevent deformity particualrly as children grow.

Polio

Polio often causes flaccid paralysis and as such often muscle wekaness is present. The most common issues are foot drop, and knee control are the main issues for orthotics. Ankle foot orthotics (AFO) and Knee ankle foot orthotics (KAFO's) are often used to allow patients with the affects of polio to walk about more easily.

Spina Bifida

Like polio, flaccid paralysis is usually presnt to a greater or lesser degree dependant on the level of the spine affected. The other difference is that sensation of the limbs are likely to be compromised meaning any orthotics must be an excellent fit on the leg to help facilitate walking with orthotics.

Drop foot

A drop foot is where there is neurological damage to the nerves that hold the foot up  (dorsiflexors) when walking.

 The result of this is is a "foot drop" which is seen when the foot is not in contact with the ground (swing phase) and the foot can often catch or drag on the ground as it drops.

Ankle foot orthotics are designed to hold and control the foot and prevent it from dropping down, to aid ground clearance when walking.