Wednesday, April 6, 2011

AFOs - A Down To Earth Guide on Ankle Foot Orthoses and Orthopedic Braces - Part 12

Detailed Information About PRAFOs

Floating The Heel With A PRAFO

PRAFOs are very important for people because they are very soft on the inside. Now you can start to see where the "pressure relief" part of the acronym comes into play. The cushion can help prevent bedsores from happening for patients. Moreover, if a person has a heel sore, a PRAFO can be a good idea as well because there is usually an open spot where the heel is not touching anything. It is basically "floating", if you will. This "floating of the heel" helps to make sure contact pressures are avoided at this area of heel and this can help to facilitate healing as a result.

How PRAFOs Help To Avoid Contractures

Another positive thing about the use of a PRAFO is that they can help to eliminate a contracted foot and ankle. Sometimes, if you have noticed, when you lay down, your toes start to point in a downward direction. Once this happens, you will also notice that your heel is up in comparison. A foot that stays in this position can develop a contracture and this is not ideal for patients. - The PRAFO will help to keep the foot and ankle in a neutral alignment.

What's The Bar For On The Back of Many PRAFOs?

Lastly, a PRAFO will have a bar that rests on the back of the device. This bar can swing either left or right and can serve as a lever that will stop the feet from being "windswept". When you do not want your foot to always be pointing in when you lay down, then this bar can be something that prevents this foot and ankle posture from happening.

As a recap, the three positive things that PRAFOs do for patient are:

1.) Help to Prevent Bed Sores
2.) Help patients to maintain a neutral alignment at the foot and ankle (avoiding plantar flexion contractures.
3.)Help patients to avoid swinging their feet (excessive toe in or toe out, or supination and pronation avoidance).

A Note To Medical Professionals Regarding PRAFOs

Try and check the heel of the patient before assuming that the PRAFO is donned correctly, if and when you apply one. Based off of the information we just talked about, one of the main purposes of a PRAFO is to help avoid ankle contractures. - Just because a PRAFO is on a patient does not mean that it is on correctly. Do the patient a favor and make sure their heel is down and back inside of the brace as much as possible. A plantarflexed foot is easily disguised inside of a PRAFO, if you we as health care professionals do not pay close enough attention. It may be an honest mistake, but it can be a mistake that the patient has to pay for longterm if the heel is not well seated.

Moreover, remember, if you call a PRAFO an AFO, you might turn around and find out your patient has a traditional style AFO (made from plastic, or metal and leather). When you order an AFO from an orthotics company realize that when you say, "AFO", you should clarify to the brace specialist if the patient is walking or not. Just remember that PRAFOs are typically for bed bound patients and AFOs are typically used for patients to help them walk better again. This will help your patients get what they need more efficiently.

* Note: This is health information. When you need to get medical advice regarding bracing then it is best to speak with your local, licensed orthotist. This is good information, but since each brace scenarios can vary, we suggest you talk with a brace specialist for medical advice.

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