The advent of carbon fibre has allowed the creation of a new range of orthoses that are not only lighter and less bulky, but also stronger than traditional makes. In KAFOs weight reductions of up to 30% are normal. This kind of weight reduction has an immediate positive clinical impact, particularly for patients with polio or post-polio syndrome.
There are many types of carbon fibre manufacturing processes. The London Orthotic Consultancy (LOC) uses a company that has learned its trade from Formula One racing. It uses a process that produces an incredibly strong, yet light, product. This has huge advantages in orthotics, as it can reduce the weight and bulk of an orthosis. Due to the reduction in weight of the orthosis, our clients can reduce their energy expenditure, which allows them to walk faster or for longer distances.
The inherent increased strength of the material allows us to manufacture orthoses that were not previously possible. We can use them to completely offload an ankle joint by taking weight through the knee.
Carbon fibre also has excellent storage and return properties. While walking, the force created by an individual's momentum is stored and, as one moves forward, this energy is released, giving the user a 'push' start. As one of our clients put it: "You have put the spring back into my step."
The reduced bulk of carbon fibre orthoses has another advantage - it means they fit a wider selection of footwear and for some of our clients that is the most important factor when choosing a new orthosis.