An AFO is brace that is designed to couple the foot and lower leg together in order to restore more optimum function to the entire lower extremity. AFO’s come in many different styles and are fabricated from a wide variety of materials including plastics, leather and carbon graphite. Very frequently these devices are custom made over a three dimensional model of a patient’s foot and leg and are prescribed and dispensed by health care practitioners. AFO’s are usually worn in extra depth shoes.
AFO’s are generally used in situations where less aggressive therapies have not resolved a patients complaint. It is very common for patients to be prescribed custom foot orthotics first to determine whether an AFO will be necessary. AFO’s are used in a very wide range of clinical situations. Some of the more common uses would include:
The conditions for which AFO’s are prescribed are often quite severe. It is very common to find that patients who need AFO’s are unable to walk comfortably (or at all) without them. Your health care provider will specifically instruct you regarding their proper use and care.
Custom made AFO’s will dramatically change the function of the foot and leg bones and muscles. As a result of these changes, patients will notice that things feel “different”. The exact sensations differ from patient to patients and from brace to brace. All AFO’s should be gradually “broken in” so that you are able to properly able to acclimate to the improved function of your lower extremity. Consult your health care practitioner for specific instructions for the care and use of the AFO’s.
As a result of the design and materials used to fabricate a custom made AFO, shoe fit is sometimes challenging. It is generally recommended that an extra depth shoes be used to accommodate and AFO appliance. Today there are many different styles of fashion friendly footwear available to patients who are required to wear and AFO. Langer carries a number of these. Ask your practitioner for more information.
A custom orthotic is a device designed to align the foot and ankle into the most anatomically efficient position. They look like insoles, but are biomechanical medical appliances that are custom made to correct your specific foot imbalance. Custom orthotics work on your feet much like glasses work on your eyes - they reduce stress and strain on your body by bringing your feet back into proper alignment. The plastic body of the custom orthotic helps to re-align the foot by redirecting and reducing certain motion that takes place during the gait cycle. Custom orthotics fit into your shoes as comfortably as an insole - and they have the advantage of having been made from precise imprints of your feet.
The symptoms of poor foot mechanics can include any one of the following:
Your health care practitioner can prescribe custom orthotics to help correct your specific foot and body imbalance. You can help your health care practitioner by discussing any nagging foot, leg, or back problems, and even by simply asking if your feet could be part of the problem.
The longer you wear your custom orthotics the more benefit you will get out of them. If your daily activities vary to the extent that you change your footwear, then you should have a second pair of custom orthotics designed for that specific activity (I.e. going to the gym after work).
Since the custom orthotic works to realign the structure of your foot you may feel pressure in some areas as the custom orthotic attempts to do its job. For this reason custom orthotics should be worn in two hour intervals and slowly extend the wear time over a period of two weeks.
For the most part any shoe that has a removable insole will work with your custom orthotic. Just remove the insole that came with the shoe and replace it with the custom orthotic. Langer also offers a carefully-selected line of footwear that can accommodate custom orthotics, as well as custom sandals and clogs that have your prescribed device built right in.
Custom orthotics will not reduce muscles tone. They will help position your foot so you will be using the right muscles at the right time, minimizing fatigue and allowing your muscles to be used more efficiently.