Lower extremity orthotics describe orthoses, braces and supports designed for the leg, hip, knee, ankle and foot and can be used for a range of needs from stability to immobilization. Lower extremity orthotics can work independently or in conjunction with one another to create a wide range of options from simple leg orthotics to a complex reciprocating gait orthotics with a custom-made orthopedic shoe.
Foot Orthotics (Shoe Inserts): Foot orthotics are designed to evenly distribute pressure over the entire plantar surface of the foot, alleviate areas that may be sensitive or painful, accommodate/correct for deformities, and improve the overall alignment of the foot, ankle complex, leg and lower limb. Categories of foot orthoses include accommodative, corrective, rigid, semi-rigid and soft.
Ankle Supports: These orthoses are designed primarily to aid in ankle stability and for chronic ankle sprains and strains. Types of support include semi-rigid rigid orthosis, rigid ankle orthosis, gel or air orthosis and custom ankle orthotics that are custom made to the patient’s foot.
Ankle-Foot Orthoses (AFOs): AFOs are designed to provide support, proper joint alignment to the foot and ankle, assist or substitute for muscle weakness, and protect the foot and lower limb. This type of orthoses typically comes in either metal or plastic and come in rigid, semi-rigid and articulated.
Lower Extremity Walker Boots: Walker boots are designed to aid in foot and ankle stability and limit range of motion of the lower extremity. Walker boots are designed with a solid or articulating ankle joint to accommodate for the treatment of injuries, fractures, chronic conditions or disease. Each orthosis has a removable inner lining to protect the skin from breakdown, malleolar (ankle) pads for additional stability and comfort, and a rocker bottom sole to provide smooth walking pattern.
Lower Extremity Soft Supports: Often referred to as soft goods, these orthoses include those braces that are fabricated and manufactured from neoprene, canvas, and fabric and can be reinforced with metal or plastic stays for additional support.
Functional Knee Orthosis: Functional knee orthoses are designed to aid in the stability of the knee joint secondary to ligament injury, postoperative reconstruction, meniscus damage, and for preventative protection. These orthoses are designed to provide maximum stability to the knee joint. Injury to the ligaments of the knee cause unwanted motion between the femur and the tibia. If left untreated, this can create significant joint laxity, lead to degenerative joint changes and put the patient at risk for further injury and cause subsequent damage to the surrounding structures. Functional knee orthoses can be made by the patient’s measurements or by a custom model of the patient’s leg.
Knee Immobilizer: Knee immobilizers are often used to stabilize and immobilize the lower extremity postoperatively and during the acute stage of knee injuries. They provide maximum immobilization of the knee joint and compression.
Knee Ankle Foot Orthoses (KAFOs): KAFOs are designed to provide support, proper joint alignment to the knee, foot and ankle, assist or substitute for muscle weakness, and protect the foot and lower limb. KAFOs can be made from a variety of materials from metal to plastic. Other names include: posterior offset knee joint, stance control, locked knee, drop lock, bail or French lock and trigger lock.
Lower Extremity Fracture Orthoses or Distal Tibia/Fibular Fracture Orthosis: Distal tibial/fibular fractures can be treated with a walker boot or tibial fracture orthosis. Your physician determines which style of orthosis is best indicated for your fracture stabilization.
Reciprocating Gait Orthoses (RGO’s): Reciprocating gait is defined as putting one foot in front of the other. RGO’s were designed to help patients that suffer from spinal cord injury, myelomeningocele, spina bifida, and other paralytic disorders walk. Often patients who have sustained paralysis to their lower extremities require the assistance of orthotic devices to walk. One such device, a reciprocating gait orthosis (RGO), is designed to provide as normal method of movement as possible for paraplegic patients.
Hip Abduction Orthosis: Hip abduction orthoses are designed to maintain appropriate anatomical alignment of the hip or prosthetic hip replacement. The components include a hip/pelvic girdle, thigh cuff, and hip joint. The joints are usually adjustable and set in some degree of flexion and abduction. This alignment positions the head of the femur in the acetabulum allowing for the ligaments, bone, and surrounding musculature to heal. These devices are also used to stabilize patients who suffer from chronic subluxation or dislocation of the hip.