Ankle Foot Orthotics

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Senior member
Nov 9, 2006
I will be getting AFOs at my next clinic appointment. Can folks who've used these share a little of their experience.

Will I need new shoes? Are they hard to get on/off if you have weak hands? How much do they really help with walking and for how long? Etc.?
There are different kinds but DH has foot drop and a weaker calf/hip on his right side so he only has an AFO for that side. It was custom fitted, it covers the entire bottom of his foot, replaces the sole of his shoe and covers/extends up the back of his calf. There's a hinge at the ankle, which allows him to flex but stops so his foot will not drop further then 90 degrees while walking.

When he had it made, it took two weeks to get back. When he got it back they spent close to 4 hours doing some refits on it (pressure points and places that rubbed). He wears a size 14 shoe and did have to go up to a 15 (you know how hard those are to find?!?!) He wears it at work only and on the weekends when we'll be walking for any length of time. He is only able to use his left hand, but he doesn't seem to have trouble putting it on. He slides his foot in and there's a strap at the top.

Hope this helps.

Depending on whether you have atrophy in your foot you may need new shoes. The AFO usually has Velcro straps and you can put tabs on them to assist with putting on and taking off They usully help with walking because you won't stumble on your toes anymore. You can use it until you don't walk anymore. They are adjustable.

hi Liz, the afo's that I got for footdrop are as Al said all one piece and ar tightened by velcro straps. the sole of the afo slips under your shoes insole and in most cases do not require a special shoe though Ican see where a larger shoe may sometimes be needed. They are awkward at first, but they do keep your toes up so you quit stumbling and then falling.
Liz- sorry for this adjustment. Seems like there is always and adjustment to be made with this disease. Wish it could be different. Cindy
I've been wearing AFOs since August of 2006. I wear two and I found I needed to get shoes one to one and a half sizes larger than normal to get the braces into. I wear kneesox and trouser sox all year round, even in our 114 degree AZ summers. Fun socks I get from and I can't walk without them and can't much walk with them either as my weakness progresses. I found it helps to wear capris or shorts so they show, having discovered that people were more polite and helpful if they could SEE my disability. The AFO's can irritate bare skin without socks, but I've become used to them and they are not that uncomfortable anymore.
I'm actually looking forward to getting the AFOs so I can walk better and stop (at least for a while) scaring my kids with my stumbling and staggering around. At this point, a strong breeze can throw me off balance.

geehdee, keith, Al, and Ashley - thanks for the detail. One last question - has anyone had to buy two different size shoes. There's talk I'll only get a brace on the right. Am cheap as dirt, so will be ticked if I have to buy two pairs of otherwise identical shoes.

geehdee - do the orthotics and "fun socks" also cover all the hair on your legs? The last time I shaved was a bloodbath so now I'm conducting an experiment to see how long a gal's leg hair will grow if left unchecked - however, not ready to share this sight with the viewing public. :|
I find socks help keep mine down except in a few spots. At least socks cover what don't get rubbed off.
Hi Liz. Up here there is a store but the name escapes me where you can buy 2 different size shoes. Maybe they have them in Albany. It's a good sized city.
I have bought three pairs (actually six) different size shoes since getting
my AFO for my right foot last March. Pricey, but well worth it. Funny, last pair of shoes I was able to just buy one pair - same size both feet. My old tennis shoes continue to work.

I have found that shoes with either velcro or some type of straps work best. Next purchase will be winter boots. I'm assuming I'll need lace-up, something not too high so I don't have to move my foot around (which I can't do).

I've also found I need a narrow toe box. If it's too wide, my toes curl under. Since I can't move my right foot that causes a problem. Good luck.
I just got my AFOs two weeks ago - they're great. I have foot drop in bpth feet & while I wasnt falling, I didn't realize how much energy it was taking to lift my feet up.

I can take larger faster steps with less fatigue now. It does shift the burden a bit more to my thighs & hips though and they're a little awkward to drive with.

Good luck with yours!

i got afo's for both feet and while they did help for awhile i had to beg them to put a hinge on right side so i could use gas petal normaly, then wanted hinge on left because i found i could not decend hills w/ one hinge and one straight now i just try to do the best i can and find it extremely hard to get back up when i fall as i have no strength in my legs, still manage to walk my dog though probably not as much as i should, good luck and god bless

I've had mine for about 3 months now. I can walk as long as there's something to hold to. When there's nothing to hold on to I have to use a walker. I fall backwards a lot.

The AFOs lift my feet so I don't get caught digging my foot into the tile floor or carpet. They only work until I get really tired.

Vicki S
AFOs Again

I have shoes that velcro closed. Got them at Walmart. I normally wore and 8 1/2. My new ones are size 10 and I think they are to big. What I do is put the brace in the shoe. It makes it easier. As far socks go the thinner knee socks work better. I got some argyle ones and my husband commented I'm finally getting stylish.

Vicki S
I didn't need to buy larger shoes because my physical therapist fitted me with ankle braces that can be trimmed to fit your foot exactly. She first asked me my shoe size and brought the brace to my house. I put my foot into the brace with my socks on and she traced around my toes with a pencil. She then put the contraption into my shoes (I wear velco strapped Ecco brand-- love them). It is amazing how well the brace helps me as I had bad foot drop on my left foot and was stumbling a lot. It velcros at the calf and is easy to get on even with my weak fingers.
Good luck on your new brace.
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