Orthotics are devices that are made to correct or maintain alignment of different parts of the body, hence the name "braces." Orthotics can be made of metal, leather, plastic and foam depending on the patient and the goal of the device. Some of the devices we use are off the shelf in a range of available sizes but most of the work we do is custom for each individual person. With a custom orthosis we can match the effected anatomy through careful molding and modificaiton techniques to provide the highest quality and function for each patient.
Foot Orthotics (FO)
Foot orthotics come in an array of styles depending on what we are trying to accomplish. Usually small and thin, these devices fit in the bottom of a person's shoe. A soft foam liner can be used to help protect the foot of a diabetic, or hard foam and plastic orthosis can help correct foot alignment of a runner with pain.
Ankle Foot Orthotics (AFO)
An ankle foot orthosis supports the joints of the foot, as well as the ankle. These devices can be used to protect, correct or limit motion at the joints by supporting a person's limb that has suffered from loss of strength or alignment deformity due to disease or trauma. AFO's can be a solid design at the ankle with no motion allowed, or with joints to allow certain degrees of motion. These design criteria depend on the goals and abilities of each patient.
Knee Orthoses (KO) Knee orthoses specifically support and effect alignment of the knee joint. These orthoses may be used for stabilizing the knee during sports activities or help prevent pain in the joint itself. Common knee injuries occur to the ligaments, tendons or cartilage causing the joint to feel loose, pop or grind. A "functional" type knee orthosis is used to support the knee and allow a patient to perform sports or daily activities with increased support. An osteoarthritis or "OA" orthosis is used for a condition in which the joint has worn or damaged cartilage causing a painful bone-on-bone condition. These orthoses are typically called "unloading" orthoses as they incorporate special joints that provide a 3-point pressure system to open the joint space and prevent the grinding. Patients who receive this type of orthosis usually feel immediate relief from the condition and commonly are able to increase their activity levels.
Knee Ankle Foot Orthotics (KAFO)
Knee ankle foot orthotics cross all of the described joints and have in the past been daubed the "long leg brace". These devices are probably most commonly associated with people who have had polio, but the designs and applications have evolved over the years. These devices can allow free, limited or no motion of the knee and ankle depending on the design.
Stance Control KAFOs
Some people need the stability of a locked knee when they are standing and walking on their affected leg, A locked knee makes it much harder to clear the leg over the ground as advance their leg when walking. Some of these people are perfect candidates for what is called Stance Control KAFOs. These devices, through a few different types of joint mechanisms, create a locked knee when the leg is supporting the weight of the body but unlock when the leg is lifted to allow for easy advancement of the leg as it is allowed to bend. For the right patients, this allows them as much mobility to get around as it does stability.
Spinal orthotics are described based on the style and levels of spinal involvement. A cervical orthosis (CO), thoracic-lumbar-sacral orthosis (TLSO), and lumbar-sacral orthosis (LSO) are the common levels involved. Depending on the type of injury and location, a Dr. will prescribe his desired levels of support for a patient. These devices can be a two piece design made out of plastic and clamshell together, a single wrap-around piece of plastic or cloth material with metal or plastic incorporated for support. Not all spinal orthotics are made for people who have had an injury. These orthoses may also provide support to those who have limited muscle control around their spine or are needing to correct curves in the spine (scoliosis). For our scoliosis patients, we use one of two types of TLSOs that are designed to decrease the spinal curve. These are the Boston Scoliosis Brace and the Providence Scoliosis Brace.
A HALO is a device that is used to maintain the head and neck in a desired alignment after a person has received some form of injury or surgery to a high level of the spine. In these situations, we assist the M.D. in the application of the device and are able to make minor adjustments as needed.
Upper Extremity Orthotics
Different upper extremity orthotics can stabilize the joints of the arm, allow or limit motion and promote healing to an injured or surgically repaired area. They can be used for recovery after surgery, support for use in physical therapy or for specific rehabilitation situations. For example, a spinal cord injured patient may use a wrist-hand-finger orthosis or, Wrist Driven WHFO with available wrist extension motion to create a pinching grip and allow for easier grasp of small objects. This allows the patient to sucessfully regain freedom and independance by providing a more efficient action of the wrist and hand.
Back to learn about O&P