For some patients, the standard orthotic does not provide enough support to control the foot or relieve discomfort. As a result, as well as supporting beneath the foot, the orthotic needs to extend behind the ankle and up the back of the leg. This is known as an ankle foot orthotic (AFO).
An AFO may be appropriate for patients with:
- Severe flat foot
- Tibialis posterior tendon dysfunction
- Severe ligament damage
- Arthritis of the rearfoot
- An underlying neurological condition (e.g. cerebral palsy etc.)
Traditionally, AFO’s are rigid throughout, flat underneath the foot and do not bend. They can be difficult and uncomfortable to wear. Custom made AFO’s can have the foot section moulded like a traditional orthotic and a hinge placed at the ankle level to allow the ankle to move up and down (dorsiflexion / plantarflexion). However, the side to side motion (supination / pronation) is prevented, thus stabilising and protecting the foot and ankle.
The use of an AFO requires good footwear as adequate room and support is necessary.