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When dealing with ankle or foot pain, it’s hard to know which ankle-foot orthosis is the best for you. There are a lot of different ankle and foot orthoses on the market, and it can be tough to figure out which one is right for you.

There are a lot of factors to consider when choosing an ankle-foot orthotic device. Do you want one that is lightweight and easy to wear? Or do you need one with strong support for more severe cases? Maybe you’re looking for a versatile model that can be used for different activities.

We’ve written this article to help make choosing an ankle-foot orthosis easier. We’ll also provide tips on finding the right AFO for your needs and getting the most out of ankle-foot orthotic devices.

Overview of Ankle-Foot Orthosis

Sometimes arthritis, fracture, and inflammation of the Achilles tendon cause strain in the ankle. But if the pain doesn’t go away after a certain period, you should use an ankle-foot orthotic (AFO). 

Ankle-foot orthotics are the artificial external biochemical device used on lower limbs to support and assist relative muscle movement. Depending upon the cause of the pain, there are several varieties of foot orthotic devices that you can use according to your own need. 

In case of severe injury, you can use custom fabricated AFO, which is non-allergic and encourages proper joint alignment to protect the damaged limb.

6 Essentials to Consider When Selecting an Ankle-Foot Orthosis

The right ankle-foot orthosis could be a game changer. Therefore, it’s really important to put a lot of thought into selecting one.

Here are six essential factors you should consider while choosing an ankle-foot orthotic.

1. Trustable Brand

Although there are many good brands, TurboMed Orthotics is an expert in manufacturing ankle-foot orthotic devices. They can provide the best ankle fitting for treating any lower limb abnormality.

After a cast or scan of the patient, they use advanced computerized technology to provide the best and most comfortable fit. They offer an adjustable hinge angle, which limits the movement of your lower limb and supports weak muscles.

2. Material

The patient’s speedy recovery depends on the orthotic material used in the manufacturing of the ankle-foot orthotic. Materials should be dense and thick to hold enough pressure to contour the patient foot during gait.

Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS), Polylactic Acid (PLA), Nylon 6/6, Polypropylene, and 13% Kevlar Fiber reinforced ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) are used in the development of ankle-foot orthotics.

A supportive device consists of materials such as thermoplastics for patients with weak plantar muscles. Hence, different materials are used depending on the type of ankle-foot orthotics. Check this out to know more about materials used in ankle-foot orthotics. 

3. Size & Shape

Tight, improper, or wrong-size ankle-foot orthotics can create more problems instead of providing support. If you want a controlled motion, selecting the right size and shape of the insole is important.

You should take your foot measurements for the optimal selection of AFO. Measure the longest and widest parts of your foot and then measure above the ankle at the level of two malleoli. You should choose the ankle-foot orthotics with no pinching and comfortable enough to give the ankle room for movement. Do you want to learn more about choosing the right fit? Click here! 

4. Shoe & No Shoe Format

You can use ankle-foot orthotic without or without the shoes. However, if you are a professional and experienced general foot pain while walking, choosing the shoe that fits your dress shoe better is best. 

On the other hand, if you are an athlete and have to use your feet frequently, you should opt for the best fit for the sneakers. Besides that, if you want a firm counter and a  sensible heel height, you should try the combination of orthotics and good shoes.

5. Maintenance

While buying the best ankle-foot orthotic or in-sole device, you might look for the best quality with maximum longevity. It’s necessary to take them off weekly and clean them with mild soap or detergent for maintenance. You can also use rubbing alcohol to kill the odor and bacteria.

But never try to soak them in a washing machine or apply direct heat of any kind. However, if your orthotic device causes any redness in your foot, it’s time for you need to replace them.

6. Replaceable Parts

Usually, ankle-foot orthotics last for one to two years. However, if you use it on a daily basis, there is a high chance that its foam may deform after some time. So, instead of spending on buying a new one, it’s better if you get its replaceable parts. In order to do so, you can directly contact its manufacturer. 

Recovery from neuromuscular disorders may take time, especially in the lower limb. So you should always look for replaceable parts such as AFO pads, Velcro straps, and extension stopper kits which would be economical.

How to Get the Most Out of Ankle-Foot Orthosis?

The ankle-foot orthosis is a great device that allows you mobility, and you need it almost daily. Here are a few tips that you can use to make the most out of your AFO.  

  1. Follow your doctor’s instructions. It’s important to wear your AFO as prescribed by your doctor. 
  2. When you first get your AFO, it may be uncomfortable to wear, so give yourself time to get used to it. Gradually increase the amount of time you wear your AFO each day until you’re wearing it as prescribed.
  3. Check your AFO for any cracks, tears, or other damage. If you notice any damage, be sure to contact your doctor right away.
  4. When you’re not wearing your AFO, be sure to store it in a dry, safe place. Avoid exposure to extreme temperatures, as this can damage the device.

Final Thoughts

If you’re considering an ankle-foot orthosis, it’s important to consult a professional who can help you choose the right ankle-foot orthotics for your needs. There are many different types of ankle-foot orthoses available, and the right one for you will depend on your individual situation.

At Align Clinic, we offer a wide range of AFOs and other medical devices to help people with mobility issues live life to the fullest. Visit our website or call us today to learn more about our products and services.