Using Your AFO Brace at Home
Purpose of the AFO
Your AFO Brace (Ankle Foot Orthosis) supports your ankle and foot. It can reduce pain, prevent further injury, promote healing and help you walk.
Wearing your AFO
Your AFO should not hurt to wear. When you start wearing the AFO, you must get used to it. Slowly increase the amount of time you wear the AFO. Always wear a sock between your skin and the AFO. The sock wicks sweat away from your skin and helps prevent chafing between your skin and the plastic. The sock should be snug enough so that there are no wrinkles when the AFO is on. At first, you will have to check your skin for sores very often during the day. This is very important if you have partial or no feeling in your foot. On day one, we advise you to check your skin every one or two hours. You may need a mirror to see the bottom of your foot or the back of your leg. You should report any red marks on your skin that last longer than 20 minutes to your orthotist as soon as possible so changes can be made.
Putting on your AFO
The AFO can be put on 2 different ways. Try both ways to see which way works better for you. Remember, your shoe is part of the bracing system. A solid shoe will last longer and provide you with more stability. Select a lace-up, oxford style shoe or an athletic shoe with the insert removed or a high top shoe. The shoes should be ½ size larger than normal.
Method 1: Place the AFO on your leg and foot. Lift your foot so that your leg crosses your other knee. Loosen your shoelaces or Velcro straps as wide as you can get them. Grab your ankle and AFO together while putting your shoe on over the AFO and foot. Fasten the calf strap and any other straps on the AFO. Tighten and fasten your shoe.
Method 2: Place the AFO into your shoe. Loosen the shoelaces or Velcro straps as wide as you can get them. Slide your foot into AFO/shoe using the AFO as a giant shoehorn. Fasten calf strap and any other straps on the AFO. Tighten and fasten your shoe.
- Do not sleep in your AFO unless it has been made specifically for sleeping. Sleeping in your AFO can cause sores (skin breakdown).
- Never wear the AFO without a shoe. The plastic is very slippery and you may fall.
Cleaning your AFO
Wipe off the outside and inside with a damp, soapy cloth. Dry it. The straps may be scrubbed with a brush on the smooth Dacron side. Let the straps air dry. The hook fastener will hold best if all the lint is removed.
What should I do if my neurological symptoms get worse?
If you have more numbness, tingling, pain or are less able to move or do your normal activities, call
Patients of the Neurosurgery Clinic: (608) 263-1410
Patients of the Orthopedic Rehabilitation Spine Clinic: (608) 265-3507
After hours, nights, weekends, and holidays, this will give you the paging operator. Ask for the resident on call for your clinic. Leave your name and phone number with the area code. The doctor will call you back.
If you live out of the area, please call 1-800-323-8942 and ask for your clinic.
The Spanish version of this Health Facts for You is #7214.
The information provided should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
Last Updated: 05/13/2011
Copyright © 12/29/2009 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#5933
Print Health Fact For You