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Knee Ankle Foot Orthosis

A KAFO is a long-leg orthosis that spans the knee, the ankle, and the foot in an effort to stabilize the joints and assist the muscles of the leg. While there are several common indications for such an Orthosis, muscle weakness and paralysis of the leg are the ones most frequently identified.

“Plastic” K.A.F.O’s are also known as cosmetic calipers.

As the name suggests they extend from the proximal thigh over the knee and incorporate an A.F.O section.

The specific shape of the various sections is dependent on the individuals needs and conditions. For example, an individual may only require a partially weight-bearing top ( such as a ‘cuff top’ ), but extension lock knee joints and a fixed A.F.O section.

By virtue of the far more ‘intimate’ contact of the plastic structure, greater control is possible and supportive / corrective forces can more easily and comfortably be applied.

The plastic also allows supportive extensions to be incorporated into the structure, such as lateral patella extensions to control lateral or medial shift of the knee complex.

The recent advances in joint design means the various motions in knee flexion/extension can be mimicked and controlled to improve the gait pattern.

K.A.F.O’s are used for a variety of conditions including Duchenne’s muscular dystrophy and Friedreich’s ataxia.

Until recently, the best option for a patient  with weakness of the muscles that control the knee was to wear a KAFO with a  locked knee joint. This provided stability to the knee to prevent involuntary  flexion, but caused other associated problems like muscle atrophy and increased  energy expenditure in gait. Within the past few years, a newer design of knee  joint has been developed that can automatically lock and unlock at the  appropriate phases of the gait cycle to allow a more fluidic walking style.  These knee joints can be used to create a KAFO that is appropriate for certain  patients with knee weakness that fit the treatment criteria of the system.

Each KAFO is custom-made to the specific  requirements of the individual. There are numerous design options available  that make usage of the Orthosis both functional and comfortable. A detailed  examination and assessment of the patient allows us to suggest the best  available component combination.

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