Types of Ankle Foot Orthosis

Ankle foot orthodontics offers crucial support to patients with different types of ankle, foot and gait issues. There are several types of orthotics a doctor may diagnose your case. It is important to understand the different options available to help you determine which brace best suits your needs.

Types of Ankle Foot Orthosis

Ankle-foot orthotics and their uses

An ankle-foot orthotics (AFO) is a device normally used to control instabilities within the lower limb. AFOs may help you in the following ways:

  • Stabilize the gait
  • Keep the joints in proper alignment
  • Compensate for muscle weakness

An AFO is normally used to treat foot drop is the inability to lift a foot on one side of the body. This leaves the toe dangling and often dragged on the ground when a person is walking.

Here are some of the common causes of foot drop:

  • Cerebrovascular accident or stroke
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Diabetes
  • Lower leg nerve injury
  • Peripheral nerve trauma
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Sciatica
  • Poliomyelitis

AFO devices can also be used to help patients recovering from a fracture or sprain, those with arthritis discomfort and other similar issues.

There are several types of an ankle-foot orthosis. Your doctor will generally recommend an AFO brace based on your individual needs. But it is good to have an understanding of the various types available in the market. They include the following:

Articulated AFO

Also known as hinged AFO, an articulated AFO has a hinge at the ankle as well as a plantarflexion mean to allow controlled movement. The hinge can be adjusted depending on the motion range advised by the orthotic. The orthotic is supposed to be worn together with a laced shoe for extra stability. An articulated AFO is ideal for lateral instability or stress fractures.


This is basically made of thin thermoplastic and custom-fitted to the foot of a patient. The plastic material is more flexible compared to other common types of AFOS. The DAFO makes it easy for the patient to maintain a natural alignment. This kind of AFO is ideal in situations where ankle and foot deformities can be corrected with less force.

Rigid AFO

A rigid AFO offers full coverage besides the back of your leg and doesn’t allow any movement. The orthotic is meant to enable clearance of the toe as the foot swings. It also offers complete stability for the entire foot and ankle.

Carbon Fiber

Carbon-fiber braces are great alternatives to conventional plastic designs. The carbon-fiber AFO comes with a flat footplate connected to a full-length orthotic. This kind of device offers energy return around the toe to facilitate normal forward movement. Research shows that this type of AFO is ideal for patients with the following condition:

  • Minimal fluctuation edema
  • Minimal coronal plane deformity within the ankle
  • Low to sparsity
  • Minimal equinus contracture

Posterior Leaf

This AFO offers stability at the ankle in order to allow passive ankle dorsiflexion. This helps a patient to have a smoother motion in the ankle when walking. The AFO brace supports the foot at the ankle joint. The flexibility posterior of this AFO helps preserve energy when a patient makes every step. The braces are made from carbon composites, ortholen or copolymer polypropylene.

Ground Reaction

This is custom support made out of modeled plastic. The inside part of this AFO redistributes energy closer to the knee compared to other orthotics. This gives it more leverage as opposed to other similar braces.

Ground reaction AFO is ideal for patients suffering from spina bifida, post-polio paralysis, PTTD, cerebral palsy, adult-acquired flatfoot, and osteoarthritis.

There are several things to consider when choosing an AFO. You should pay close attention to the recommendation and guidance from your doctor.

In a nutshell, there are different types ankle-foot orthosis. It is important to consider factors such as how the brace is worn, replacement parts, and comfort when shopping for one. The problem is that sometimes patients don’t follow instructions given to them by physicians.

The devices are made for different conditions. failing to follow instructions from a physician may be a recipe for more trouble. Besides, you should take into account a number of factors when purchasing such devices.