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Orthotics in the management of drop foot

The condition drop foot is associated with those who have either suffered nerve damage following a fall or injury and those who have suffered a stroke and affects the ability of the patient to flex their ankle and toes. As a result of this there is an increased chance of tripping and falling and causing more serious damage.

Where the condition results from a nerve injury then recovery can take anything from 18 months to 2 years. This is typically achieved with a combination of physiotherapy to help rebuild strength in the foot and the use of an orthosis outside of physiotherapy to help with mobility.

Where the source of the condition is neurological then the chances of a full recovery a somewhat limited, though equally physiotherapy and the use of an orthosis can offer some return of functionality. The main focus in using an orthosis in this instance is to offer mobility to the patient and ensure they are able to return to their normal routine with a reduced risk of falling.

What is an Ankle Foot Orthosis?

A drop foot orthosis is designed to assist the patient in their mobility and whilst there are varying styles they are all designed to maintain the foot at a 90 degree angle to the ankle so that there is less risk of catching your foot when walking.

These devices are designed to be concealed and are comfortable to wear to enable some degree of normality to be returned to the patient, increasing confidence and protecting against trips and falls.

Foot-Up

The Foot-Up remains an extremely popular product in the market, with a very simplistic design connecting the ankle and foot to prevent the foot from dropping.

It is available in both the standard and shoeless option and is designed to be concealed and can be hidden away even when wearing shorts or a skirt. It is also available in black and tan colours with the latter offering a more natural colour which can be concealed.

Prolite AFO

The Prolite AFO is an 'L' shaped plastic insert which sits behind the calf and bends beneath the foot and is attached around the calf. The purpose of this device is to physically prevent the foot from dropping due to the nature of the rigid plastic insert.

The benefit of this product is that it can be worn with or without shoes, meaning you simply need to attach it in the morning and remove it at night.

Next Steps

When selecting a drop foot device it is important to try a few options and see which one works best for you as everyone is different. Your physiotherapist will also be able to help in determining the best course of treatment for you and the most suitable devices for your needs.