Lower Limb Solutions for Children
Finding out that someone you love needs an orthotic device can be overwhelming. To help you understand how and why lower limb braces are designed and used, we provide this overview of the main types of braces offered by Boston Orthotics & Prosthetics.
An ankle-foot-orthosis (AFO) is a brace designed to treat nerve and muscle disorders, and can also be used to promote healing and improve functionality after an injury or surgery. AFOs come in many different varieties to accommodate different body types and functional requirements. See the AFO products offered by Boston O&P.
Supra (meaning "above") malleolar orthotics (SMOs) are a step down from the traditional AFO, meaning that someone requiring an SMO would have a higher level of limb functionality than someone in need of an AFO. The SMO is designed to allow completely free up-and-down motion of the toes, while providing medio-lateral (M-L) stability. See the SMO products offered by Boston O&P.
The next step down in terms of support is the UCB, which is designed for very high-functioning people that simply need mild direction of the forces generated when the foot makes contact with the ground. The UCB allows completely free motion both front-to-back and side-to-side. It stabilizes the arch of the foot and provides a better base on which the muscles can work.
A knee-ankle-foot orthosis (KAFO) is made to address dysfunction at the ankle and knee, including muscle weakness and instability, injury or trauma, knee replacement, or neuromuscular disease. KAFOs usually include one of the AFO brace options with the addition of a knee brace. Knee braces can be made in a locked position or can allow a certain range of motion. See the KAFO products offered by Boston O&P.
A hip-knee-ankle-foot orthosis (HKAFO) is made to address dysfunction at the ankle, knee and hip, including muscle weakness and instability, injury or trauma, knee replacement, or neuromuscular disease. HKAFOs usually include one of the KAFO brace options with the addition of a hip joint and pelvic section to provide control to selected hip motions including front to back, side to side and rotation. An HKAFO can also stabilize the hip and lower spine in cases of paralysis or muscle weakness.
Night-time bracing is largely used for people who have constantly tight joints as a result of high tone (when the muscle is shorter than normal and has a tight or rigid feel) and/or spasticity (when the muscle is continuously contracted). Night bracing is designed to do one of two things:
- Maintain the range of motion the patient currently has and prevent joints from getting tighter
- Help them gain range of motion by stretching the joints at night
For more information, please see our guide to Lower Limb Conditions. This illustrated selection, excerpted from A Simple Guide to Orthopaedics, organizes lower limb conditions into two classifications, aetiological and anatomical, and provides a comprehensive introduction to many common lower limb conditions along with their treatments.