How to wear a foot drop brace

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Foot drop brace is another name for an ankle-foot orthosis. Its purpose is to support your foot and control it when your muscles can't. Your brace may be prefabricated and customised for you or custom-made from scratch. Your orthotist (brace specialist) will use your doctor's prescription, her training and your feedback to make your brace as comfortable as possible. Your orthotist will also teach you how to "don and doff" (put on and take off) your brace and when to wear or remove it.

Clean your foot with soap or body wash. Dry completely with a towel.

Inspect the skin in the area the brace will cover for problems such as red or sore areas, chafing, swelling, blisters and calluses. If you find any problems, call your orthotist.

Apply skin powder (cornstarch is a good and inexpensive substitute) in a thin layer to ease friction and absorb moisture.

Put on clean, knee-high socks of any material except cotton, which can increase friction. Consider wearing socks of a synthetic or natural material that wicks away perspiration.

Insert your foot orthosis (arch and heel support), if you use one, between the foot plate of your brace (if it has one) and your sock.

Open all the straps on your brace, whether Velcro or lacing, enough to allow free entry of your foot. If there are elastic straps, stretch them as you come to them to allow entry.

Set your foot in the brace with your heel firmly against the back of the brace.

Close and tighten the straps until the brace fits snugly, but not tightly.

Apply the "two-finger rule" for safety harnesses: You should be able to get two fingers (on edge, not side by side) under the straps.

Check your socks to be sure there are no wrinkles or bunching under the straps --- this can cause chafing and even blisters.

Remove or "doff" your brace when you are not active to check for skin issues and allow your foot to cool off and dry. When you are ready to "don" your brace and be active again, put everything back on as you did, starting with washing your foot.

Ask your orthotist what shoes you can wear with your brace. Order special shoes if you need them, but ordinary lace-up leather shoes or good sneakers usually work well. You may need a larger size than usual to accommodate your brace.

Slide your braced foot into your shoe.

Stand on your foot and check carefully by feel for sock wrinkles. If you feel any, slide your foot out of the shoe and pull gently on the sock toe to smooth them.

Tie your shoe snugly for support, but not so tight that it cuts off circulation in your foot.

Check your skin for problems when you remove your shoe, brace and sock. Call your orthotist if you find any.

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