CARE AND USE OF YOUR DEVICE
A Knee Ankle Foot Orthosis or KAFO is a lower extremity orthotic that is used to control instabilities in the knee and lower limb by maintaining proper alignment and controlling motion.
Instabilities can be caused by broken bones, arthritic joints, hyperextension of the knee, muscle weakness and/or paralysis. As there are many different reasons that a person may need to utilize a KAFO, there are many different designs for a KAFO based on necessity. Additionally, a KAFO is considered a part of pelvic stabilization known as HKAFO (hip-knee-ankle-foot orthosis), which has further design types like RGO (reciprocal gait orthosis).
A KAFO may be made with leather components or with plastic components. It also has a variety of knee joints (from drop locks to no locks) that is determined by a person’s condition.
Knee Ankle Foot Orthosis Fracture Brace
This orthosis is a full leg length device that supports the limb following a fracture of the lower femur (thigh bone) or upper tibia (shin bone). The purpose of the KAFO fracture brace is to stabilize the broken bone allowing it to heal in the proper position. A KAFO fracture brace encompasses more of the leg than a conventional KAFO and is more supportive of the bone. The brace is made of a flexible plastic and extends from the bottom of the foot to the top of the thigh. The KAFO has hinges at the knee and ankle that can be either locked stiff or left free to allow full motion at these joints.
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Since there are many different designs of KAFOs, there are a variety of ways to put the brace on. Your orthotist will instruct you on the best way based on your specific brace. The following instructions are for a basic plastic KAFO:
- Apply a long cotton sock.
- While sitting on a chair or a bed, position the thigh and leg inside the KAFO.
- Position the heel of the foot at the back and bottom of the foot portion of brace.
- Fasten the Velcro straps on calf and thigh. Pull snug to make sure foot does not slide in KAFO.
- Put on shoe. (A special shoe is not needed to accommodate orthosis. If needed, remove insole from shoe to create additional room. You may need a shoe that is a size larger and/or size wider.)
- Prior to standing, ensure that locking mechanism is engaged on the knee if your particular brace includes one.
On the first day, begin by wearing the orthosis for one (1) hour. After one hour, remove the orthosis and check your skin. Some slight red marks may be observed on the skin. These should fade and/or go away completely within 20-30 minutes. Slight redness is common at the arch, instep and bony areas of the foot/ankle. If redness does not go away within 20-30 minutes, or if you notice any blistering or bruising do not put the orthosis back on. Call your Orthotist and schedule an appointment.
On the second day, put the orthosis on for two (2) hours. Check skin, once again. Increase amount of wear time an hour each day. It typically takes 7-10 days to break in the KAFO to be able to wear it all day. Continue to check your skin for any areas of concern. It is typical to experience muscle soreness while adapting to the KAFO as your walking patterns are changing. Wear the KAFO daily to experience the best results.
Cleaning & Maintenance
The KAFO may be cleaned by wiping it with a damp cloth. You may also use rubbing alcohol on the plastic to remove any body oils and residue. Do not submerse in water as it may harm the metal fasteners and straps. Also, keep the brace away from excessive heat to prevent damage to the plastic.
Tips & Problem Solving
- KAFOs should always be worn with socks and shoes. The sock will act as a barrier between brace and skin to improve comfort in the event of perspiration.
- The best type of shoe to use is a basic gym shoe with laces or Velcro closures. This will allow adjustability and ease of application. Dress shoes and sandals are not recommended.
- If you have any redness that does not fade, any blisters, bruises or pain, please remove the KAFO and call your orthotist.
If you experience any problems, please contact your orthotist.