Friday, April 15, 2011

AFOs - A Down To Earth Guide on Ankle Foot Orthoses and Orthopedic Braces - Part 8

How To Apply A Plastic AFO

1.) First apply a sock or long stockinette to the leg. This will absorb perspiration so it does not accumulate inside the brace. It will also help to proactively protect the patient's skin. Skin irritations are not common, but being aware of the possibility is a good idea.

2.) Loosen the closure straps on the side of the AFO to allow for your leg and foot to enter the orthosis.

3.) Slide the ankle foot orthosis into position. It is important to ensure that the heel is well seated in your AFO. You can check this by looking along the sides of the brace, or at the back of the heel aspect.

4.) If putting an AFO on a child, first make sure that any plastic that is located at the top of the foot aspect is spread open for easy access of the foot. Then with this aspect drawn open, you can "scoop" the foot inside the brace. You may also want to bend your child's knee and push the foot backwards and down by gently exerting pressure on the instep or top of knee.

5.) Apply all available tension straps and pull them to make sure the brace is worn in a snug fashion. A mark can be made at the end of the strap to keep the tension levels consistent between each and every application.

6.) Then, once the brace is on, it is slid into a shoe (unless the patient has a metal and leather AFO). A shoe horn can be used on occasion if you find it easy to handle. The shoelaces may need to be loosened so the shoe can be drawn open wide. This will help allow for easy entry of the brace into the shoe. - Sometimes people put the brace into the shoe first and then slide the foot in place afterwards. This may work just fine, just proceed with caution. It may be a little more challenging to apply the brace and the shoe at the same time, but some people like it and think it is the easiest option available.

7.) You do not necessarily need a new shoe or a special shoe when it comes to using your AFO. If necessary, you may need a larger shoe but do not assume this is always the case. However, if you plan to go shoe shopping it is best to bring the brace with you so you can "test drive" the shoes with the brace while you are in the store. Shoes that have wide toe boxes and Velcro closures can be helpful for patients.

Take Home Points For Medical Professionals

It is imperative that you remind the patient of the importance of a shoe when their foot is on the ground, while using a brace. There is not tread underneath an AFO in most cases and the shoe will be extremely important while using the AFO.

*Note: This is health information. Although this is good information, it is best to talk with your providing licensed orthotist regarding medical advice when it comes to braces.

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