The Ankle-Foot Orthosis : Another option for foot drop.

Do you have a client who suffers from some foot drop ? Do they have a classical AFO but it drives them nuts ? Foot drop occurs when the anterior compartment of the lower leg (mostly tibialis anterior and/or long toe extensors) gets compromised neurologically leaving a persons gait compromised during the swing phase and early half of stance phase.  Early to mid stance phase of gait requires that the anterior compartment muscles slowly (eccentrically) lowers the foot to the ground in a controlled manner.  When this is compromised the foot quickly, and without strategy, slaps to the ground thus rushing the persons gait onto the forefoot.  This often occurs in an uncontrolled fashion and renders some balance and weight transfer complications. Then, during late stance phase, when the foot comes off of the ground merely by forward body progression, these clients leave the foot in the pointed plantarflexed position leaving the toes without proper clearance. This often leads to tripping and stumbling.

Always looking out for newer and better solutions, we came across this variation on the AFO (ankle-foot orthosis) strategy. It seems like it could have some advantages from a logistical side. Whereas the typical AFO comes under the foot and maintains the foot in a 90 degree ankle rocker (dorsiflexion) position this one has a bit of a dynamic effect. The bungee cord-like device should slowly lower the foot to the ground as well as help to spring the foot back into dorsiflexion for swing phase clearance so that the toes are not catching on the ground.  Seems so simple we have to wonder.  We might give this one a try on a few patients who have varying degrees of footdrop and report back.

Regardless, we wanted to share……. we love outside the box thinking. Especially when it is so simple !

bravo !

shawn and ivo…………. toss in a side of orthopedics and a main course of neurology, sprinkle a little biomechanics on that and you have a well rounded meal.  We are …… The Gait Guys

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