If you are suffering from serious neurological or orthopedic conditions like stroke, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, fractures, sprain, or arthritis, one of the treatment methods you will get is the use of an ankle-foot orthoses AFO brace. An AFO brace is a device that is specially designed to control instability in your lower limb by maintaining the correct alignment and controlling movement.
Currently, there are two main types of AFOs in the market: carbon fiber AFOs and plastic AFOs. Over the last decade, carbon fiber AFOs have begun showing great promise as the primary material in AFOs. But why are carbon fiber AFOs better than plastic AFOs? This article seeks to answer this question.
What Is a Carbon Fiber AFO?
A carbon fiber AFO is prefabricated from advanced prepreg carbon composite material. Medical experts are already exploring and gathering information on carbon fiber AFOs, both anecdotally and through research to learn more about their benefits and how they can be best applied to help patients manage foot drop problems as opposed to the traditional plastic ankle-foot orthoses. Here are some of the benefits of using carbon fiber AFOs over plastic AFOs.Energy Return at Toe-Off
Over the years, carbon fiber AFOs have been known to provide energy return at toe-off. However, researchers have recently discovered something even more intriguing about these AFOs. This is the fact that these devices can allow your calf muscles to fire, averting atrophy. They also help the muscles to regenerate.
Most medical experts acknowledge the fact that the use of carbon fiber AFOs is a paradigm shift in the orthotic industry because they have moved the industry from static alignment to fully functional support devices.Additional Normal Gait
Studies have shown that a carbon fiber AFO can help to facilitate a more normal posture. This is a significant achievement because a normal posture means that you can enjoy reduced cardio-pulmonary consumption. On the other hand, plastic AFOs are unable to allow mobility. For instance, your joint won’t function effectively when you are wearing a plastic AFO.
The only way you can improve mobility when wearing a plastic AFO is to reduce the amount of plastic applied around the joint. Many plastic AFOs have been created, but none has been proven suitable when assimilated into a real orthosis.Easy to Fit Shoes
Since carbon fiber AFOs have a flat footplate, it is very easy for you to add other foot orthotics and wear shoes. Other studies have also revealed that walking speed and strength increase when you wear a carbon fiber AFO.