Information for patients
This leaflet can be made available in other formats including large print, CD and Braille and in languages other than English, upon request.
What is an Ankle Foot Orthosis (AFO)?
An Ankle Foot Orthosis (AFO) is a specific orthotic device that is fitted and worn to the lower leg below the knee.
There are a number of reasons why an AFO may be provided, including:
- To improve stability and posture and encourage development
- To provide support to weakened or weakening joints
- To control abnormal muscle tone
- To prevent abnormal motion
- To reduce pain
- To offer increased control and stability of the foot and ankle
This is to stabilise the foot and ankle and offer better control when standing and walking.
Your child’s device may be either solid or hinged and may vary in colour.
Your child’s AFO has been specially provided to meet their own clinical needs and has been adapted by your child’s Orthotist for their use only to treat their presenting symptoms.
How often should my child wear their AFO?
When your child starts to wear their AFO it is important to increase the wear time gradually. As the AFOs are made from a firm plastic material, this increases the risk of skin pressures and soreness and therefore a gradual wearing in schedule will allow you to assess your child’s skin for any evident signs of pressure.
AFOs should not cause pain for your child and if they do report pain in their feet, you should remove the device, check their skin for any obvious areas of redness or pressure and reduce the wear time to allow further adjustment.
When your child is prescribed an AFO your Orthotist will agree a suitable wearing schedule. It is generally advised that your child starts to wear their AFO for approximately 30 minute periods, increasing this time by 30 minutes each day until your child is able to tolerate their AFO for a full day.
What shoes should my child wear with their AFO?
Your child’s AFO will provide structural stability to the foot and ankle and therefore the footwear you purchase does not need to offer these qualities.
AFO designs are generally a little large so you may need to purchase footwear in a larger size to accommodate this. You may also need to purchase split sized shoes if your child wears AFO on only one leg.
It is recommended that once your child’s AFO is supplied, it is taken to a shoe shop to trial different styles and ensure your child is comfortable with both their AFO and footwear donned.
There are some brands of footwear that work well with an AFO. These include:
• Shoe zone
• Nike Flyease
• Friendly shoes UK
How often will my child’s prescription be reviewed?
Your child’s AFOs will not be reviewed routinely by the Orthotic department. However, we advise that you contact to arrange a review appointment if the following applies:
- If it has been 6 months since the AFO was supplied
- Your child has grown by one full shoe size
- You are concerned about a change in your child’s condition
- Your child is complaining of discomfort/pain
How do I care for my child’s AFO?
Your child’s AFO is made from plastic and is easy to wipe clean. We would advise that your child’s AFO is cleaned daily with a damp cloth or wipe, to prevent bacteria build up and risk of skin irritation.
Should the straps or padding on your child’s AFO become worn or damaged please contact the Orthotics Service to allow repairs to be arranged.
How do I contact the Orthotics Service?
Monday to Friday
Telephone: 01429 522471
PIL Number: PIL1412
Date for Review: 08/03/2023
Comments, concerns, compliments or complaints
Patient Experience Team (PET)
We are continually trying to improve the services we provide. We want to know what we’re doing well or if there’s anything which we can improve, that’s why the Patient Experience Team (PET) is here to help. Our Patient Experience Team is here to try to resolve your concerns as quickly as possible. The office is based on the ground floor at the University Hospital of North Tees if you wish to discuss concerns in person. If you would like to contact or request a copy of our PET leaflet, please contact:
Telephone: 01642 624719
Freephone: 0800 092 0084
Monday – Friday –
Out of hours
Out of hours if you wish to speak to a senior member of Trust staff, please contact the hospital switchboard who will bleep the appropriate person.
Telephone: 01642 617617
Data protection and use of patient information
The Trust has developed Data Protection policies in accordance with Data Protection Legislation (UK General Data Protection Regulations and Data Protection Act 2018) and the Freedom of Information Act 2000. All of our staff respect these polices and confidentiality is adhered to at all times. If you require further information on how we process your information please see our Privacy Notices.
Telephone: 01642 383551
This leaflet has been produced in partnership with patients and carers. All patient leaflets are regularly reviewed, and any suggestions you have as to how it may be improved are extremely valuable. Please write to the Clinical Governance team, North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, University Hospital of North Tees, TS19 8PE or: