AFO brace

I’ve had ataxia for 6 years and have been to 3 neurologists and physical therapy to no avail. My gait is a steppage gait where I lift my right leg up high. My brother is an orthocist who makes orthotics and prosthestics and he thought I appeared to have drop foot. He suggested I try an AFO (ankle foot orthotic) and sent me a sample.

It really helps me to walk better. I can’t lift that leg up and improves my gait. I walk faster too. It’s not the most attractive or fashionable device, but in the winter under a pair of jeans, no one would even know it’s there. Thought I’d share for any of you who have steppage gait. Now I wonder if I have ataxia or drop foot.

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I had drop foot almost 60 years ago and it lasted about 2 yrs and one foot got better and a short time later the other foot. I am 82 now and notice some problems tripping and some stumbling. Years ago I was doing roofing and was in the squatting position too long, I finally had walking casts put on and then had braces made with springs to lift the foot. The doctor at the time said it can be permanent if not treated soon enough.

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Gait is very interesting. If you search gait on youtube, you can see all the different types of gait, Disappointingly though it doesnt seem to lead to diagnosis or treatment. I should have had corrective supports in my shoes as a child in the 1940’s. They called them wedges in those days but my parents only had one pair of shoes done when I was about 4. I did used to go to Scholl’s shop and get plastic orthotics during my 30’s but it didnt prevent my big toes turning inward. I eventualy had surgery to straighten my right foot [I thought this was causing my falls] and the physio remarked on my gait and lead eventually to ataxia diagnosis. It seems that my cerebellum didnt develop [I was born prematurely] but I was able to overcome difficulties up to late 50’s when my falls were more remarkable.
I have persevered with orthotics but difficult to find shoes or sandals for them. A good pair of trainers seems better. I have recentaly discover elasticated ankle supports [on ebay] which help a lot.

Hi, my daughter has worn SAFO’s and now AFO’s for many years since she was a young child for her Ataxia and they really help her balance and walking. She wears them on both legs and they have to be worn over her clothing. They might not be that attractive but she at least can stay upright a little better. She sadly now through progression can only walk a few steps but if those steps are a little less painful and steady then it’s worth wearing the AFO’s. It’s probably that the drop foot is a result of Ataxia but whatever the case may be if AFO’s help you then that’s really good news.