Ankle Foot Orthosis, Fixed and Hinged (AFO)

As the name would suggest an Ankle Foot Orthosis is an orthotic or brace that encompasses the ankle and foot. The objective is to control the position and movement of the ankle. AFOs are used to support weak limbs; they can also be used to immobilise the ankle and lower leg to correct foot drop. They are the most commonly used Orthoses.

Depending on the condition the London Orthotic Consultancy is treating, we can design them to be fixed at the ankle; this allows us to fine tune a patient’s gait more effectively. Or they can hinge at the ankle to allow a limited range of movement in one plane. 

Whatever kind of AFO is prescribed we fine tune our bespoke orthotics; this is fundamental to ensuring optimum alignment and comfort. In 2015 a study of UK orthotists found that only 46% reported that tuning of AFOs was standard practice.

In a recent article in the Journal of Prosthetics and Orthotics – Elaine Owen argues that it is not a question of whether to tune or not as it should be standard practice and time should be allocated to the task by the orthotist.

Conditions Treated with AFOs

The following medical conditions for which AFOs can be prescribed include:

  • Cerebral palsy

  • Strokes leading to foot drop

  • Idiopathic foot drop

  • Peripheral neuropathy

  • Polio and post-polio

  • Trauma

  • Multiple sclerosis

  • Guillen Barré syndrome