Introduction to Jointed AFOs

A jointed AFO is a type of Ankle-Foot Orthoses that is characterised by one or more joint mechanisms. It may be known as an articulated AFO.

The mechanisms are placed over the medial and lateral malleoli, which are the ‘bony parts’ of the true ankle joint. In contrast, a standard AFO is of solid construction with no moving pieces.

A jointed AFO can be manufactured out of various materials, usually plastic or carbon fibre.

Orthotics Plus provides ankle assessments and AFO prescription to the community of Melbourne. Our clinics are located in Malvern and Heidelberg.

What Conditions May Require a Jointed AFO?

Examples of conditions that may benefit from a jointed AFO:

  • Neurological conditions (i.e. Cerebral palsy or stroke)
  • Medial-lateral ankle instability
  • Subtalar osteoarthritis

Generally, we suggest a jointed AFO in the case of wanting to allow dorsiflexion, however prevent most plantarflexion, which comes down to individual presentation.

How a Jointed AFO Works

A jointed AFO has one or more joint mechanisms that will facilitate or prevent unwanted movement in the ankle.

Allowing Desirable Movement

When walking with a jointed AFO, the foot will contact the ground and the knee will then progress over the foot. While the foot is in a planted state, the ankle will naturally move through a dorsiflexion motion. 

The jointed AFOallows the wearer this normal and natural tibial progression, resulting in a more normal gait.

For us to consider a jointed AFO we will generally require a minimum range of dorsiflexion at the ankle, otherwise the midfoot of the patient is at risk.

Other factors such as velocity-dependent spastic catches and muscle strength above and below the knee also must be factored in when deciding if an articulating AFO is appropriate.

Fitness woman training and jogging in summer park, close up on running shoes in sunlight. Healthy lifestyle and sport concept

Minimising Foot Drop

While the patient is walking and swinging their leg through, the AFO provides lift and support to the foot, preventing the toes from catching on the ground.

In other words, the device is constructed so that the foot and ankle maintains an approximate 90-degree angle whilst suspended in mid-air..It also helps people walk with a more natural, heel to toe pattern and can be used to assist with ankle posture issues and/or weakness at the ankle.

Double and Triple Action Ankle Joints

Newer technology may allow for an even more natural gait. Double and triple action ankle joints work with differing stiffness springs built into the joints to allow desirable movements, while preventing movements that are not beneficial.

For example, we can finetune the AFO to allow some plantarflexion on heel contact for shock absorption and knee stability, while resisting plantarflexion during swing phase which would result in the patient tripping.

These devices are custom made and are generally integrated into a carbon fibre shell.

If you are currently wearing an AFO and would like to explore double or triple action ankle joints as an option, please contact us for an assessment.

Assessing for a Jointed AFO 

During your comprehensive assessment, we will identify what activities and movements you are struggling with/are causing pain.

We will suggest appropriate equipment to support those affected joints. We believe in maintaining function, so we would not recommend immobilising an area unless it is necessary.

At Orthotics Plus, you can see a range of Orthotic products, from hand-made foot orthotics to carbon-fibre jointed AFOs, many of which you can trial during your assessment.

Orthotics Plus Heidelberg reception

Customising a Jointed AFO for Each Patient

Jointed AFOs are customisable in the following ways

  • Amount of joints
  • Joint minimum/maximum angles (range of motion)
  • Material type (plastic, polypropylene plastic, carbon fibre)
  • Trim lines
  • Level of dorsiflexion assistance
  • Level of plantarflexion assistance
  • Dimensions
  • Colour
  • Strapping mechanisms
  • Footplate length

We will consider your individual presentation/anatomy to manufacture equipment individualised to you.

Orthotics Plus – Supporting the Melbourne Community

Orthotics Plus are leaders in the orthotics industry. Boasting an extremely professional and experienced team, we look forward to the opportunity of meeting you and moving forward together.

  • Our clinicians and staff are wonderful, warm people
  • Our premises are high-quality and accessible
  • We are open-minded and listen to our patient’s input
  • We advocate for choice and control through Orthoses customisation, trials and treatment pathways
  • Our senior clinicians have a minimum of 10 years of active clinical experience

Please use our referrals or clinic locations pages to get started.

Clinic Locations Call (03) 9077 6414

Jointed AFO FAQ

Yes (within reason).

Patients typically don’t need custom-made shoes, but they do need appropriate footwear that can be purchased from traditional shoe shops or us.

In most cases, a jointed AFO from Orthotics Plus is custom-made.