The ankle joint is one of the most vulnerable body parts for active children. Ankles are also quite prone to ankle and foot deformities that make running difficult and cause injury easily. The best time to fix an ankle or foot deformity is during childhood, as the bones are not yet completely settled. Ankle supports, also called ankle braces or ankle-foot orthoses (AFO), not only allow children to have an active lifestyle while shielding their ankles from injury, but also improve their walking, because supports help mould the ankle and foot to the correct posture.
The hinged AFO is used to correct inward rotation of the ankle. This is important because walking or running on an inward-pointed foot causes harmful repercussions in the tibia and other parts of the lower legs. There is a strap on the back of the support that assists in the ankle correcting, but it limits your child's movements, so it's not the best ankle support for walking.
The solid AFO is a good ankle support for protecting your child against injury. It allows flexibility to walk and run and roll her ankle around, but the strapping and forward binding brings the ankle back to the correct position and keeps the foot in the correct shape. This ankle support should fit perfectly inside your child's tennis shoes or sneakers. However, this ankle support will not be enough support and correction for children with serious ankle or foot deformities.
The spiral AFO is designed for children who are unable to coordinate their muscle movements, or who have athetoid cerebral palsy or dystonia, which induces muscle spasms and prolonged muscle contraction. This support can be adjusted to fit your child's needs by allowing flexibility to move in some directions but inhibiting motion in other directions.
Dorsiflexion Assist AFO
The dorsiflexion assist AFO is like the hinged AFO but it gives your child more freedom to walk normally. It has a spring-inspired hinge that assists in lifting your child's foot whenever she picks her foot up. Although it allows for easier walking, than the hinged AFO, it is still better for ankle and foot shape correction, not walking.
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