Treating Drop Foot with Bespoke Orthotics

Charcot Marie Tooth patient, with drop foot, wearing Neuro Swing AFOs

Charcot Marie Tooth patient, with drop foot, wearing Neuro Swing AFOs


Treating Drop Foot with Bespoke Orthotics

BY Daisy

21 September 2023

In recognition of National Foot Drop Awareness Day, we would like to share a few case histories of patients who are currently in treatment.

Drop foot, also known as foot drop, is a medical condition characterised by the inability to lift the front part of the foot properly. This results in the toes dragging along the ground when walking. Drop foot can affect one or both feet and can make it difficult to walk, increase the likelihood of trips, and can lead to instability and balance problems.

The condition can be caused by various underlying issues, including:

The most common cause of drop foot is the compression of a nerve in the leg that controls the muscles involved in lifting the foot.

Orthotic treatments for drop foot aim to help alleviate the symptoms and improve walking ability. There are several treatment options available, depending on the underlying cause and severity of the condition:

  • Ankle Foot Orthosis (AFO): AFOs are the most commonly used orthotic devices for drop foot. These are braces that are worn on the lower leg and foot to provide support and help control the foot's movement during walking. They help prevent foot drop by maintaining proper ankle alignment and dorsiflexion (the backward bending motion of the foot).
  • Carbon fibre braces: Lightweight and designed to mimic the anatomical structure of the lower leg, carbon fibre braces They offer support while allowing for a more natural range of motion.
  • Foot orthotics: Some people with mild cases of drop foot might benefit from custom-made foot orthotics (shoe inserts) that provide cushioning and support, helping to address any biomechanical issues that contribute to the condition.
  • Surgical interventions: In some cases, surgical procedures may be considered to address the underlying cause of drop foot. This could involve nerve decompression, tendon transfers, or other surgical techniques to restore muscle function and correct the foot's movement.
Our carbon fibre Neuro Swing Ankle-foot orthosis (AFO)

Our carbon fibre Neuro Swing Ankle-foot orthosis (AFO)

The best orthotic treatment for drop foot depends on the individual's specific circumstances, including the underlying cause, severity of the condition, and the patient's overall health. Assessment for drop foot requires a full biomechanical assessment, in the first instance.

LOC has a wealth of experience in treating Drop Foot. Over the last couple of years, we have been prescribing many of our patients with the adjustable Neuro Swing system from Fior & Gentz. The Neuro Swing AFO has a unilateral ankle joint that has two springs, one posterior and one anterior. Resistance in the springs can be reduced or increased and the range of movement can be altered as can the alignment of the ankle. The Neuro Swing system allows us to return the patient’s gait pattern to one that is as near normal as possible. By doing so, we are also protecting bones and joints and encouraging muscles to work correctly.



The positive impact on our drop foot patients can be quite dramatic. Here’s what Nina Sparks, Team GB para-snowboarder, has to say:

"The Neuro Swing AFO has been absolutely life changing for me. I've gone from limping around, with lots of pain and struggling to stand for long periods of time, to climbing mountains, running round campsites and walking with a near normal gait. The Neuro Swing is comfortable to wear as it is custom-moulded to my leg and foot. I'd be lost without it, and the support it gives me. LOC have been brilliant and I'd recommend them to anyone who may need custom orthotics."

Read more about Nina’s treatment story and her bespoke Neuro Swing AFO.

We have also been treating a male patient whose drop foot was caused by Charcot-Marie-Tooth. He says:

“The Neuro Swing AFO has made three notable differences compared with my previous AFO. Firstly, it is a bespoke fit to the shape of my foot and lower leg so I am not getting any painful friction points or the same degree of hard skin. Secondly, it has restored my confidence to walk in uncrowded areas with no need to also use a walking stick. Finally, I’ve been very happy with the after sales service at LOC which does not come with the bureaucracy or the delays I have experienced with the NHS.”

Read more about his ​drop foot treatment for Charcot Marie Tooth disease

Before and after Neuro Swing AFOs fitted


Finally, a word from a very new patient whose Neuro Swing was only fitted earlier this month. Michelle’s drop foot was caused by a left-sided stroke she had back in 1998. She had coped valiantly in the years following, but progressively it had become increasingly difficult to walk with her right leg very painful. She had tried a posterior leaf spring AFO from her local clinic but it did not help. As a knee consultant told her: “Your knee has basically given up.”

Michelle has literally only spent a few hours in her new AFOs. “The pain in my knee has gone and the muscles above and below my knee have started to work again. The Neuro Swing has got my leg into the right position to walk normally.”

Gait pattern in a stroke patient before and after a neuro swing ankle foot orthosis is fitted

Michelle's gait pattern before and after her Neuro Swing ankle foot orthosis was fitted


If you would like to know more about The London Orthotic Consultancy’s approach to treating drop foot, book an appointment with one of our specialist clinicians today.




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