Keys To Prescribing AFOs For Senior Patients
- Volume 25 - Issue 8 - August 2012
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Can AFOs Help Address Postural Imbalance And Fall Risk?
According to the most recent studies, the top risk factors for falling among seniors include weakness, balance deficits and gait deficits.15,16 Several articles have clearly demonstrated the link between the benefits of a flexible style AFO for those with postural imbalance/instability.
Cakar and colleagues stated that a flexible style AFO can reduce fall risk while several studies have highlighted the fact that an AFO can not only improve postural stability but also proprioception around the foot and ankle through enhancement of somatosensory feedback.17,18
Researchers used bilateral AFOs to assess balance in a patient with severe neuropathy and a history of frequent falling. The study showed the use of AFOs significantly improved overall balance test performance. Without the AFOs, the patient had falls performing most of the tests.19
Clinicians have used AFOs for decades for those at the highest risk for falling but only in the last few years have we seen an AFO style designed for the senior patient in mind. The Moore Balance Brace, which I developed in 2010, has become another useful tool for the podiatric physician, physical therapist and the orthotics and prosthetics specialist in an effort to impact the risk factors for falling among our senior patients. The brace’s lightweight design and flexible trim lines along with its unique posting have made this thermoplastic posterior leaf style AFO (hinged and standard) a significant and impactful tool for those treating the at-risk senior patient.