Ankle Foot Orthosis (AFO)

What is an AFO?

About Ankle Foot Orthoses (AFO)

AFO stands for Ankle Foot Orthosis (pl. Ankle Foot Orthoses), or foot drop brace, and it is a specialized medical device,  brace or splint that is worn on the leg from below the knee onto the foot.  There are several different types of AFOs and they are made for many different reasons.

AFOs are used by people who have cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, polio, arthritis, diabetes, stroke, Charcot Marie Tooth and many other issues that affect the feet, ankles and sometimes even the knee.

AFOs are made according to the specific needs of each person. There are many different styles and they are made according to the medical, biomechanical and environmental needs of the individual.  They can be used for issues such as foot drop (drop foot), ankle arthritis, ankle pain, side to side instability and leg weakness. 

The main types of AFOs are called flexible, rigid or hinged. You can see some pictures with descriptions below.


How we can help

We Make It Simple For You

See your family doctor or specialist for a diagnosis of your problem (for example, foot drop due to a stroke)

If appropriate, the doctor would write a prescription for an AFO with a diagnosis (for example, Dx – Stroke, foot drop, Tx – AFO)

When you come in for the assessment, we will:

  • Take a detailed medical history
  • Perform a physical examination of your lower extremities
  • Perform a biomechanical examination
  • Perform a gait analysis (how you walk – with or without walker, cane, AFOs or other gait aid)
  • Explain to you about treatment options

If you choose to go ahead with an AFO, we will:

Our Registered Technicians will custom make your AFO at our laboratory in Mississauga (this process takes approximately 1-2 weeks)

At the delivery appointment we will:

  • Complete all of the final adjustments
  • Have you walk and test it out
  • Teach you to use the AFO
  • Schedule a follow up

You will return for the follow up and re-evaluation

We will provide any necessary adjustments and follow-up visits as required

Any time you have any changes, discomfort or if the AFO is not working as it should, you will book an appointment to see us again for an re-evaluation and possible adjustments.

Light Weight Straightforward Design

Flexible Ankle Foot Orthosis

A light weight straightforward brace design that prevents the foot from plantar flexing (dropping) to allow a smooth swing of the foot without catching the toe on the ground.

  • Made from polypropylene plastic or carbon fibre
  • Velcro closures
  • Recommended for foot drop due to Charcot Marie Tooth, multiple sclerosis, poliomyelitis or nerve injuries
  • This design is good for people who have an ankle that is stable from side to side
Control up or down and Side to Side movement

Hinged Ankle Foot Orthosis

Hinged ankle foot orthoses are braces that are used to control plantar and/or dorsi flexion (up or down movements of the foot) and inversion/eversion (side to side) movements. The hinged ankle foot orthosis can be a plastic, metal or carbon fibre design. 

  • Large variety of ankle joints (hinges) available
  • Joints selected according to client needs, weight, activity level
  • Recommended for foot drop with stroke (CVA) or cerebral palsy; and in arthritic or painful conditions to limit ankle motion
  • Controls side to side motion and up/down motion
  • Can be used to help control the knee motion, such as knee hyperextension
Ultimate stability for the ankle and foot

Rigid Ankle Foot Orthosis

Rigid Ankle Foot Orthoses (AFO) are used to help immobilize the foot and ankle for people who have pain and/or instability of the foot and ankle.  The rigid design works to prevent excess motion that might lead to instability or can contribute to pain.

  • Ultimate stability for the ankle and foot
  • Recommended for people who have complications from injuries, arthritis, or severe instability of the ankle.
Custom made to address your needs

Charcot Restraint Orthotic Walker (CROW)

The CROW is a custom made brace and very specialized type of AFO that is designed to immobilize the foot and ankle and offload (take away) pressure.

  • Worn without a shoe
  • Rockered soling allows for a smooth gait or walking pattern
  • Recommended for people who have complications from diabetes such as a diabetic foot ulcer (DFU) or a Charcot Joint.
  • Takes the place of a cast but can be removed for dressing changes and to check the skin.
Low profile

Silicone Ankle Foot Orthosis (SAFO)

The SAFO is a design that is used for people who have a flaccid paralysis of the feet.

Photo courtesy of Dorset Orthopaedic Company Ltd.

Commonly Asked Questions

  • Ankle stability
  • Ankle alignment
  • Ankle/foot control
  • Knee control
  • Protection for the feet
  • Proprioceptive feedback
  • Offloading for a wound or ulcer
  • Reduce energy requirements
How we can help

We Make It Simple For You

find which AFO is appropriate for you