AFO Basics: Learn the Different Types of Ankle Foot Orthoses (AFOs)

AFO stands for Ankle-Foot Orthosis, which is a brace or orthotic device used to provide support, stability, and alignment to the foot and ankle. There are different types of AFOs designed to address specific conditions or needs. Here are some common types of AFOs:

1. Solid AFO

Solid AFOs are rigid or semi-rigid braces made of plastic or carbon fiber. They provide maximum stability and control to the foot and ankle. Solid AFOs are commonly used for conditions such as drop foot, ankle instability, or to prevent excessive ankle motion.

2. Articulated AFO

Articulated AFOs have hinged or dynamic ankle joints that allow controlled motion. They provide support and stability while allowing some degree of ankle movement. Articulated AFOs are often used for conditions where maintaining or improving ankle range of motion is important, such as stroke rehabilitation.

3. Posterior Leaf Spring AFO

Posterior Leaf Spring AFOs are flexible braces made of carbon fiber or plastic. They have a thin, leaf-like design that supports the foot from behind, assisting with toe clearance during the swing phase of walking. These AFOs are commonly used for drop foot or weakness in ankle dorsiflexion.

4. Carbon Fiber AFO

Carbon Fiber AFOs are lightweight and provide a balance between rigidity and flexibility. They offer support and control while minimizing the weight and bulkiness of the brace. Carbon fiber AFOs are popular for their strength, durability, and aesthetic appeal.

5. Hinged AFO

Hinged AFOs have adjustable hinges at the ankle joint, allowing controlled motion and providing support based on individual needs. They can be used for various conditions requiring stability and controlled ankle movement.

6. Dynamic AFO

Dynamic AFOs, also known as energy-storing AFOs, utilize springs or elastic components to store energy during the loading phase of walking and release it during the push-off phase. These AFOs assist with forward propulsion and provide a more natural gait pattern.

It is important to note that the selection of an AFO depends on the individual’s specific needs, condition, and the recommendations of a healthcare professional. The type of AFO prescribed may vary based on factors such as the extent of the condition, gait analysis, and functional goals.