An AFO is a device that supports the ankle and foot and extends from below the knee down to and including the foot. This device is used to control instabilities in the lower limb by maintaining proper alignment and controlling motion of the foot and ankle. AFO’s are custom molded in a variety of different ways to facilitate the patient’s needs. It is worn inside a properly fit shoe. An AFO may be required by a physician for any number of conditions affecting the stability of the foot and ankle. Input and information from the physician, physical therapist, family members and the orthotist regarding the overall condition and anticipated goals for the patient will help determine the best orthosis for the patient.
On the first day you receive the brace, begin by wearing for only 2-3 hours. Remove the brace and check your skin for red marks. Some small, light red marks may be noticed on the skin that should go away in 20 to 30 minutes after removing the brace. Slight redness is common over the instep and under the ball of the foot. If the red marks do not go away in 20 to 30 minutes or if you notice any scratching, bruising, or blistering, apply rubbing alcohol and a band aid twice a day. If the redness does not resolve in 2-3 days, do not put the brace back on. Call immediately to schedule an appointment with your orthotist.
If the skin is ok, wait at least 1 hour and then put the brace back on for 2-3 hours at a time for the rest of the first day, checking the skin after each session. Each day thereafter, increase the wear approximately one hour. If pain or redness persists, stop wearing the device and schedule and appointment for follow up.
The best way to clean an AFO is to spray the inside with rubbing alcohol. The AFO can also be cleaned by wiping it out with a damp towel and anti-bacterial soap. Regular appointments should be kept for maintenance and upkeep of the orthosis.