Great strides forward in foot drop treatment

Orthotics are devices applied to the body to maintain or alter the position of a joint or body part and are used to reduce pain, improve functional mobility, and reduce the risk of further injury. Orthotics assist in the treatment of a range of pathologies including foot drop. But what is foot drop?

Foot drop presents a complex walking challenge. The American Stroke Association states: "People with foot drop can’t raise the front part of the foot because of weakness or paralysis of the muscle that normally lifts it," resulting in slower walking, multiple falls, fatigue at short distances, and pain. Foot drop is often caused by peroneal nerve damage arising from sports injuries, diabetes, or even from spending long hours sitting. Muscle disorders such as polio or brain or spinal cord disorders such as strokes, multiple sclerosis, and cerebral palsy are also a cause.

Ankle foot orthotics (AFOs ) can assist patients with foot drop. An AFO is a brace or splint that is applied to the ankle and foot for extra support, helping to raise the affected foot to the correct position. It assists in restoring movement and functionality to the ankle, foot, and knees while reducing symptoms such as pain and pressure.

Individuals who experience foot drop are often offered ill-fitting, off-the-shelf, devices designed for short term use. In order to achieve comfort and optimise functional ability a full orthotic assessment is required. At assessment the individual and an experienced clinician discuss the range of options available, can trial some devices and decide upon an appropriate orthotic prescription, be that a custom made AFO manufactured by APOS or custom modifications to one of the many orthotic devices available via international orthotic manufacturers.

For further information contact the clinical team at APOS on 091 796983.

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