Most of us take our ability to hop in a kayak, go swimming, or even jump in the shower or bath for granted. But for people living with a condition that requires them to wear an Ankle Foot Orthosis or AFO, all these things are a lot harder and either involve abandoning the AFOs entirely, or the water-based activity.
An AFO is a foot and ankle brace that helps control the position of the ankle and compensates for muscle weakness whilst stabilising the joint and minimising any abnormal gait patterns.
AFOs are the most common form of orthotic and the patients who tend to benefit most from wearing an orthosis like an AFO have a condition that involves the wasting of muscle. Conditions such as cerebral palsy, drop foot, polio, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy and spinal cord injury. AFOs have also been proven to improve functional recovery for stroke rehabilitation patients.
Although many people depend on AFOs to go about their daily life, standard models used by most orthotists cannot get wet, sandy or covered in dirt. That means those who depend on AFOs for mobility often resort to using plastic bags over their orthotics, or simply avoid going to the beach, swimming pools, or spas altogether.
And yet, exercise plays an important part in the physiotherapy regime associated with many of the conditions that we treat, such as multiple sclerosis and cerebral palsy. Like anyone else, our patients want to continue with their active daily lives. They don’t want to feel restricted.
Several patients approached us asking if we could design them an AFO that could get wet and be worn in the shower, while swimming, or on holiday. Also a lot of our patients have worries about problems with sweating into their AFOs, while they’re in hot climates. So, we designed an AFO specifically for use in water. Whereas our normal AFOs are created with a soft, fabric lining, our waterproof ones are made using plastic components and can be completely submerged in water. They canalso be used to help transfer in and out of water for swimming and other water-based activities safely because of their rubberised sole plate. Some of our patients are already using our new waterproof AFOs and we were thrilled to hear that one of our patients has finally been able to have a shower for the first time in five years.
We produce a large subrange of AFOs, including dynamic ankle foot orthoses (DAFOs), night AFOs and silicon AFOs for long-term drop foot care.
To remain at the forefront of modern, bespoke orthotic design and manufacture we are always eager to discover new ways to help people and improve their quality of life. If you have any specific requirements, or would like to get yourself a pair of waterproof orthotics in time for a holiday, please speak with one of our clinicians to see if we can help.