|The foot of a person with Charcot-Marie-Tooth. The lack of muscle, high arch, and hammer toes are signs of the genetic disease. (Charcot-Marie-Tooth) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
At ArchMasters we choose to carry The Noodle® AFO for those in need of assistance from a condition called “Drop Foot.” A drop foot gait is the inability to lift up the foot, either partially or completely, when you normally would swing your foot forward with walking. It is usually from peroneal muscle weaknessand even paralysis from such things as Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT), post stroke problems or even injury. The foot can literally drag on the ground causing the toes to drag. This may potentially cause one to trip or have to excessively lift their leg up to swing the foot forward. This may cause other musculoskeletal problems via overuse of joints and muscles.
Typical orthotic treatment consists of using what is called an ankle foot orthotic (AFO). Actually, it probably would be best called a foot ankle leg orthotic as it combines the use of an orthotic that extends from the foot to the leg. The AFOs used for drop foot are commonly made of a plastic-like materials that begins at the bottom of the foot and extends up the back of the leg. They typically have some type of hinge at the ankle that will spring or force the foot up (dorsiflexion) to prevent the foot from dragging on the ground helping to facilitate walking.
Some frequent problems with traditional AFOs are that they can be very bulky, lack complete foot function, require larger shoes, and have less than desirable cosmetic appearances. They actually are like a large, heavy brace. Furthermore, acting like a brace, most do not take into consideration of the necessary foot functions required of natural gait. This traditional “Bracing” effect can lead to other problems we commonly see with the unsupported foot.
What’s the Ideal Solution for Drop Foot? ArchMasters provides patients with The Noodle® AFO. The Noodle®AFO is a light weight carbon fiber composite device that is definitely not bulky. It usually does not require a much larger shoe. The company, Kinetic Research has a patent on this device as not all fiber carbon devices are the same. Their product called the noodle is lighter, stronger and more flexible than standard carbon fiber products. While most carbon fiber devices are imported, Kinetic Research proudly manufactures its products in the USA.
Even though it is lightweight, it is an extremely durable AFO. It is ideal for users with varying degrees of foot drop who would benefit from a dynamic energy storing AFO to improve gait. The flexible footplate and flexible strut facilitate a more natural gait than most rigid carbon fiber AFO’s. Its’ dynamic energy storing ability is easily seen as soon as the patient starts wearing it.
Another feature I like about The Noodle® AFO is it provides gait assistance by controlling plantar flexion and reduces energy consumption with dynamic dorsiflexion and improved loading response.
- Control drop foot and assist with correct heel strike with gait
- Accommodate plantar flexion tone with variable flexibility foot plate
- Facilitate heel to toe weight transfer with weight bearing
- Provide flex-assist at toe-off to increase ankle power at push off
- Provide a swing assist during the swing phase of gait
- Encourage knee flexion with improved ankle / foot biomechanics
- Improve gait efficiency
A feature that allows ArchMasters to offer even greater assistance is that it comes in three different fitting options. We can provide an off-the-shelf option, another that is built-to-order from specific measurements, or a custom-made AFO fabricated from a cast of your foot and leg. This is very helpful as not all drop foot patients need a custom-fit AFO. This allows us to not only provide a cost effective treatment, but it also allows us to address all foot function, supportive, balancing and protective needs which improves your gait.
Worried about appearance? Hiding your AFO by wearing a sock over it? No worry. The noodle is designed in such a way that it is easily hidden and barely exposed. The design also provides a unique ability for flex and absorption of weight loads well past the point where standard carbon fiber devices fail and break. The key is dynamic flexibility that absorbs and releases kinetic energy. This will give you a near normal gait and even help you with your overall posture.
I believe this is truly what I call the Cadillac of Ankle Foot Orthotics. It, as well as ArchMasters orthotics are even guaranteed.