Are you wondering how to put on an AFO brace?
As you’ll find out, donning an AFO brace isn’t hard, but there are a few specifics you should know to ensure the brace fits your foot.
But that’s why we come to the rescue with our ultimate guide on how to use an AFO brace for foot drop.
How to Put on an AFO Brace Made of Leather
Gauntlet-style AFO braces are made of leather and thermoplastic to offer more contact and better immobilization than other foot orthoses.
As an orthopedist explains, “a rigid gauntlet restricts and blocks almost all ankle motion.” It’s used to treat medical conditions, such as adult-acquired flatfoot, arthritis, and ankle instability, among a few.
We’ll give you general directions on how to put an AFO brace made of leather, but you should reach out to your doctor if you have any concerns.
The first thing you have to do is get a sock and put it on the foot that requires an AFO brace. Since you want to avoid skin breakdown and skin irritation, get a cotton sock with no seams.
The sock should be snug without compromising your blood circulation and not loose enough to interfere with the brace.
#2 Unlace the Brace
Leather braces have either straps or Velcro. Depending on the type of brace, you will have to loosen the Velcro straps or the laces.
#3 Assume the Position
Your foot must be in the right position when you put on the AFO brace. You should sit and bend your knee at 90 degrees. Don’t ever put on the brace with your leg extended!
#4 Slide the Heel
Once you’ve bent your knee at the right ankle, slide your heel into the leather brace as if you’re putting on a boot. A shoehorn might be necessary to keep the back of the brace from breaking.
#5 Lace the Brace
Starting from the bottom, lace the straps/ Velcro tightly to ensure a snug fit. While some discomfort is normal during the first few days, don’t hesitate to call your doctor if you experience any pain.
#6 Put on a Shoe
Finally, put on your shoe, and you’re ready for your usual everyday activities.
Usually, patients don’t need special shoes to fit the brace. But depending on the type of brace, you might need to remove the insole or get a size larger.
#7 Consult with your Doctor
If you don’t think the AFO brace is working as it should consult with your doctor as soon as possible.
Check how an AFO made with leather looks like:
How to Put on an AFO Brace Made of Plastic
Like leather AFOs, plastic ones are used for various medical conditions, such as spraints, foot drop, arthritis, and cerebral palsy.
They keep the ankle and the joint in the proper position, correct abnormal gait, and improve the quality of life for people with neurological/orthopedic disorders.
Again, we’ll give you the general directions on how to put on an AFO brace made of plastic. But always consult the product info or your doctor to ensure you’re using the foot equipment as you should.
#1 Get a Cotton Sock
Before you put on your plastic ankle-foot orthotics, you need to don a long sock or stocking to prevent skin irritation. Cotton and wool work best; just don’t forget to smooth the wrinkles!
#2 Prepare the Ankle Brace
Most ankle-foot orthoses have Velcro straps or laces on the sides. You need to loosen these straps and get yourself comfortable on a chair/sofa.
#3 Slide Foot
Slide your foot into the brace, ensuring that the heel is all the way inside the brace and in contact with the footplate. Pay attention to the sides and the back to check if the heel is in the correct position.
Remember to bend your knee to 90 degrees!
#4 Apply the Straps
If the heel is fully seated inside the brace and in contact with the bottom edgest, apply the ankle strap and calf straps (if any) and secure them.
You should pull them to ensure a snug fit, but it shouldn’t cause you any significant pain. You may give your foot a minute or two to relax before tightening the straps.
#5 Apply the Front Shell
As we already said, some of the best AFO braces for foot drop are made of two parts – inner and outer shells. If your foot drop brace has an outer shell, follow these instructions:
- Place the outer shell opening on the floor.
- Lift your heel over the opening and slide the foot inside until you reach the footplate.
- Secure the straps
#6 Put on Your Pair of Shoes
Unlace your regular shoe and open it wide so that the foot with the brace can fit inside. Never wear plastic ankle braces without proper footwear since they’re slippery, and you can make your condition worse.
In general, you don’t need special shoes for braces for foot drop and other conditions, but you might have to remove the insole or get a larger size.
Use a shoehorn to decrease the pressure on your toes if you’re having trouble sliding your leg into the shoe.
#7 Talk to Your Doctor
If you have balance problems or the brace limits your range of motion too much, talk to your doctor. And read the product description to ensure you’re doing everything right.
Check this video for more information:
5 Tips on How to Use an AFO Brace
Besides knowing how to put on an AFO brace, there are a couple of other things adult and senior patients should consider when they’re using ankle-foot-orthosis.
#1 Follow a Wearing Schedule
Your body needs time to adjust to any ankle-foot orthoses. Start by wearing your AFO brace for one hour on/ one hour off up to three times for the first day to minimize discomfort and skin irritation.
Slowly increase the duration in the next few days, and don’t forget to give your foot some time off the brace.
#2 Don’t Adjust Your AFO Brace by Yourself
It’s tempting to fiddle with an adjustable ankle brace, especially if you’re experiencing discomfort. However, you shouldn’t do so without talking to your physical therapist.
The same goes for rigid braces. They are designed to restrict your range of motion, and any fiddling can worsen your condition or damage the brace.
#3 Clean Your AFO Brace Once a Week
Regular cleaning is necessary to remove any bacteria/dirt accumulated on the brace. Wipe the brace with a damp cloth, and then rinse well. Wait for the AFO to dry completely before you put it on again.
#4 Maintain Your Weight
Even small changes in your body weight can influence how well the AFO brace works for you. Monitor your weight and talk to your doctor if you experience weight loss/weight gain.
#5 Wear Adequate Footwear
Proper footwear is essential when it comes to AFOs for patients with gait disorders. Choose shoes with flat heels and avoid shoes with an open heel.
What is an AFO?
Ankle foot orthosis is an ankle brace custom-built to suit a patient’s needs. AFOs encompass your foot, ankle, and leg to keep the foot/ankle in its natural position and restrict movement.
AFOs are used to treat common conditions affecting the muscles, gait, and stability when walking, for example, foot drop and plantar fasciitis.
Can You Wear AFOs Without Shoes?
Plastic AFOs are slippery, and you’re at risk of a fall if you don’t wear an actual shoe. So, don’t ever put on your AFO brace without wearing an acceptable shoe.
Moreover, don’t forget about socks. Your AFO shouldn’t come in direct contact with your skin.
What Shoes Can I Wear with an AFO Brace?
You don’t have to order special shoes to wear with your AFO brace. Ordinary shoes will do as long as they’re big enough to fit the brace.
To ensure you’ve got the right type of shoe, take your AFO brace with you so that you can try them together.
How Much Does an AFO Brace Cost?
It depends on your health condition and the different types of AFO brace. But you can expect to pay between $50 to $1000 for a custom-made brace.
An ankle-foot orthosis can be invaluable for getting you back to your feet and improving your quality of life.
However, don’t buy one without consulting with a specialist since you can damage your ankle joints if you don’t really need it.
Moreover, always inspect your leg after you remove the ankle-foot orthotics. Some skin redness is normal, but it should disappear after 30 minutes.
What do you think about our guide on how to put an AFO brace? Have you ever used one, and what’s your experience with it? Share your story in the comment section.
- “A Guide to Your Ankle Foot Orthosis (AFO) Orthotic Services.” n.d. Accessed June 22, 2021. https://www.acecic.co.uk/media/1739/a-guide-to-your-ankle-foot-orthosis.pdf.
- “Leather Gauntlets – Acor Orthopaedic.” n.d. Www.acor.com. Accessed June 22, 2021. https://www.acor.com/Orthotic-devices/leather-gauntlets.php.
- “Orthotic and Prosthetic Unit : Ankle-Foot Orthoses AFOs.” n.d. Www.rch.org.au. Accessed June 22, 2021. https://www.rch.org.au/orthotic/info_for_parents/anklefoot_orthoses_afos/.
- “Plastic AFO (Ankle Foot Orthosis).” n.d. Scheck & Siress. Accessed June 22, 2021. https://www.scheckandsiress.com/patient-information/care-and-use-of-your-device/plastic-afo-ankle-foot-orthosis/.
Do you have other tips on how to use an AFO brace and how to put it on? Please share with us below!