A Guide to Your Ankle Foot Orthosis (AFO)

What is an AFO?

An AFO or ‘Ankle Foot Orthosis’ is a plastic splint which is made to keep the feet and ankles in a good position for standing and walking. It may be worn on one foot or both feet. The AFO may also have a joint or hinge at the ankle, or it might be set in a fixed position.

What are they prescribed for?Ankle Foot Orthosis (AFO)

AFOs are prescribed for a number of reasons:

  • To realign and control the ankle and foot joints.
  • To provide support to weakened joints or muscles.
  • To stop or limit abnormal motion.
  • To provide protection.
  • To help control abnormal muscle tone.
  • To prevent foot/ankle muscle contractures.

What should be worn under the splint (AFO)?

It is advisable to wear long cotton socks or tights under the AFO which are:

  • Well fitting.
  • Made from cotton rich material.
  • Long enough to cover all the areas of the skin, which come into contact with the splint.
  • Pulled up firmly to eliminate creases.

Do I need to buy special shoes?

You will need to buy some shoes to fit over the AFO. They do not need to be expensive, ordinary trainers or shoes are fine. Look for shoes with laces that reach down as far to the toes as possible or shoes that are deep and have adequate width (sometimes taking the existing inlays out of the shoes creates
extra space).

Please ensure that you:

  • Take your AFO with you when you buy shoes.
  • Do not wear your AFO without shoes as they can be slippery or hazardous.

Putting on your AFO:

  1. Sit down to put on you AFO. Pull up your socks and make sure there are no wrinkles in them.
  2. Place your heel at the back of the AFO, and then fasten the heel retaining strap snugly. Check that the heel is in place.
  3. Finally fasten the top strap and put on the shoe.

How long should they be worn?

At first, the AFO may feel uncomfortable so you should gradually wear them in using the following schedule.

  • Day 1: 30-60 minutes
  • Day 2: 1-2 hours
  • Day 3: 3-4 hours
  • Day 4: 4-5 hours

Your orthotist will tell you how long you should build up to, or what activities to wear them for. Some people wear them for a few hours, while others wear them all day or at night.

What about red marks?

  • You should check the skin around the foot and ankle every time you take the AFO off.
  • It is normal to see red marks where pressure has been applied. These should disappear within 30 minutes.
  • If you notice any sores or blistering you should stop using the AFO and contact your Orthotist for advice as they may need adjusting.

Maintaining Your AFO

You can clean AFO’s by wiping with a damp cloth or antibacterial wipe. Dry it with a towel or leave it to dry naturally. The straps may discolour with use but this does not affect the function of the splint. If you have, any problems with your AFO contact your Orthotist.


The Ankle Foot Orthosis supplied is considered the most appropriate for your condition. Please follow the review advice given to you by the Orthotist. If you require an appointment before this time, please contact the Orthotic Department.

Orthotics – Things To Look Out For

When wearing the orthosis, if you notice any of the following in the list below, please call the orthotics department and book a face to face review:

  • Skin damage such as blisters, sores, cuts, open wounds, blood or discharge.
  • If the device becomes painful or uncomfortable 2-3 weeks after gradual wear.
  • Any abnormal or new pain since using the device.
  • Increase in trips/falls.
  • The device is showing signs of weakness or something is broken/unstuck.
  • Feeling unsteady, unbalanced or unsafe since using the device.
  • Unable to wear the device.

Orthotic Department tel:01582 497198.