Braces and Orthosis
Orthoses, also known as braces, are used for many conditions to provide support to various parts of the body. The purpose of each orthotic device depends on the patient and their specific needs, but can be used anywhere from helping reduce or accommodate issues with the muscles, joints tendons or ligaments in the leg, to supporting a patient do simple movements like walking or getting out of bed.
Non-custom braces/soft good devices can range from neck braces to walking boots to soft shell helmets. These are items that are fit to each patient based on a general size category and/or normally used for a short term need.
Sports bracing includes items such as functional ACL knee braces and Sully shoulder braces. These braces give additional support to a joint or other area of the body that had been previously injured to prevent it from getting injured again.
Orthoses, particularly custom ones, are often named for the joints that the device fits over:
- Ankle/Foot Orthosis (AFO) - An AFO is a brace that goes over the foot and ankle and goes up to just below the knee. There are many different designs of AFOs but, generally, they allow more stability at the ankle joint while aiming to achieve heel first gait. They can be used for patients with poor balance or strength in their legs, toe walkers, and patients with other general gait deviations.
- Supra-Malleolar Orthosis (SMO) - This is a brace that fits around the foot and comes to just above the ankle bones. This type of brace is used for patients that have instability in their feet, allowing them to walk with a more efficient gait and to help their balance.
- Knee/Ankle/Foot Orthosis (KAFO) - A KAFO is a brace that comes above the knee. The lower section is an AFO and it will have metal joints that go on either side of the knee, up to a band on the thigh. These will provide more stability to the knee joint. It allows patients who don't have good control of their knee and ankle joint to walk with stability and confidence.
These custom braces are usually used long term.
The treatment of clubfoot involves several stages of casting that your doctors will begin a few days after birth. An orthosis, or brace, is typically used in the second month to maintain correction of the foot. The braces are special little shoes with an attachment bar to keep the feet turned out all day and night.
A hip brace is used to maintain proper hip joint placement. Various types of braces include the Pavlik Harness, Rhino brace, and the Newport brace.
As with the lower extremities, an upper extremity orthosis will focus on the arm, anywhere from the shoulder down to the fingers. They can support or assist in positioning a contracted hand or a fracture while it heals.
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