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The term ‘orthosis device’ may sound like something from a sci-fi movie. However, these devices are pretty straightforward to understand, even if you’re coming across them for the first time.

A doctor can advise you to wear an orthotic device in multiple scenarios, such as after undergoing surgery or when you’re experiencing intense foot pain. 

In any scenario, it’s crucial to know what these devices are and how they work. For that, we have compiled this meaningful guide to help you understand everything you need to know about orthosis devices.

What Is an Orthosis Device?

The word orthosis originated from the Greek word ‘ortho’ in the 1950s, which essentially translates to ‘making straight.’ 

These devices or braces help support your weakened muscle while you use them. Not only that, but they also help relieve pain and reduce the progression of tightened tendons and muscles. 

Orthotics aim to improve your overall function after an injury or illness. For example, you can use these devices after soft-tissue and bone-related injuries and changes caused by neurological abnormalities. 

Orthotics are also used in physiotherapy to help straighten and stretch your muscles, improve your gait, and restore your balance and grip. 

Here are some more scenarios in which orthotic devices are used:​

  • Preventing deformities in lower limb
  • Increasing upper limb balance
  • Reducing an injury’s impact and giving it time to heal
  • Increasing gait efficiency
  • Healing chronic joint instability
  • When your knee or hip gets dislocated
  • Improving training skills
  • Reducing jerky and uncontrolled movement
  • Reducing contracture risk
  • Reducing axial loading on the spine

Orthotists are medical professionals who identify the type of device a patient must wear to treat their injury. Then, after consulting with other experts, such as physical therapists and orthopedic surgeons, an orthotist will track a patient’s recovery goals. 

These medical experts develop, create, and modify orthotics to match an individual’s therapy needs.

Types of Orthosis Devices

As we’ve already established, there are many orthosis devices, each intended for a different body part. Let’s look at some of them in more detail below:  

1. Foot Orthoses (FO)

Foot orthoses devices, such as ankle braces and arch support, go by many names. These devices are commonly used by patients that have severe foot problems. In addition, many patients suffering from foot or ankle inflammation and ligament laxity are advised to wear foot orthoses.

These devices are commonly inserted inside shoes. Patients can get tailor-made designs based on their shoe size, as they’re primarily designed using a computerized digital image of their foot. FOs are mainly constructed of vinyl acetate (EVA), which is used to encapsulate soft materials like airbags.  

An orthotic can prescribe foot orthosis devices to those suffering from chronic foot pain to prevent it from interfering with their feet’s overall health. In addition, athletes may use orthotics to correct foot abnormalities that impede their performance.

2. Ankle Foot Orthoses (AFO)

These devices protect different aspects of the leg, including the foot and ankle. Like your average FOs, ankle-foot orthoses are usually tailor-made to meet a patient’s ankle size. In addition, AFOs are designed to help relieve pain and enhance walking mobility.

An orthotic might take a patient’s leg design to construct an AFO, after which they will undergo a fitting session to evaluate the AFO’s support level.

AFOs commonly cure ankle and foot problems like an avulsion fracture, osteoarthritis, or foot eversion. Moreover, they are also used to reduce gait abnormalities. Carbon fiber AFOs are ideal for those suffering from distal muscle weakness.

If you’re not accustomed to wearing AFOs, getting used to them can be tricky. We recommend you only wear garments that can easily roll up, especially while fitting these devices. To avoid friction, patients should also wear knee-high socks that aren’t prone to wrinkles. We suggest you bring regular shoes to the fitting sessions to test these devices easily.

3. Wrist Hand Orthosis (WHO)

A Wrist Hand Orthosis device is primarily used to immobilize or reduce wrist motion. Since these devices only cover the wrist, patients won’t find any difficulty using their fingers. 

A WHO treatment provides wrist and hand stability, treat biomechanical nonalignment, and limits excessive wrist and hand movements.

Although these devices are mostly worn while recovering from a wrist injury, doctors can prescribe them as a cure for various hand-wrist problems, including:​

  • Tendonitis
  • Ligamentous injury to the wrist
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Radial nerve palsy
  • Dislocation
  • Radial and or Ulnar Fracture
  • Ligament Laxity
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

4. Elbow Orthosis

An Elbow orthosis is a handy instrument for curing all sorts of elbow injuries. These orthoses devices are incredibly adept at limiting elbow flexion, which is ideal in case of a physical injury, ligament damage, or post-surgical rehabilitation.

Furthermore, different variations of elbow orthosis are available to cure more severe illnesses. For example, some variations of elbow orthosis come with elastic metal joints, while others have adjustable position locking joints that help reduce arm movement. Another type, an elbow, wrist, and hand-finger orthosis (EWFHO), covers the entire forearm, hand, and fingers and aids elbow activity.

5. Spine Orthoses

These external devices are used to support a patient’s spine. The spine is a complicated anatomical system that can get damaged via sudden blows to the vertebrae. In clinical settings, spinal orthoses stabilize and maintain spinal alignment and prevent and cure spinal deformities resulting from a herniated disc. 

The primary purpose of spinal orthoses is to support a weakening muscle group, restore a malformed body portion, and keep a fractured spine stable. In addition, an orthosis device can protect a body component from additional harm or correct a body part’s posture.

Wrap Up

There are many orthotic devices, each with minor changes designed to assist people with various mobility issues. Generally, almost all orthotics are named after the body part they support. 

If you feel you need an orthosis device, you can book an appointment today with one of our orthosis experts to discuss any questions or concerns you might have.