To prevent drop foot, an ankle-foot orthosis (AFO) is often prescribed. This is a device that is placed around the ankle and is often made of polypropylene. Human gait is supported by providing functionality to the ankle that normally is done by the dorsiflexor muscles. The dorsiflexor muscles are unable to lift the foot, so the AFO should take over this function.
An AFO is designed to counteract the biomechanical effects that drop foot has on normal gait. This means that the AFO has to assist gait by lifting the foot during the swing phase, and by providing stability during the stance phase. Also the AFO should prevent slap foot, which is the phenomenon that occurs when the foot rapidly falls on the floor after heel strike because of the muscle weakness.
The problems for which a solution should be created are the problems resulting from weak dorsiflexor muscles. They are: not enough toe clearance, no controlled plantar flexion possible at beginning of stance phase and decreased stability of ankle joint.
The aim of this project:
The development of an ‘intelligent’ Ankle Foot Orthosis for patients with peroneusparese. It also should improve ambulation and reduce energy cost during walking. This AFO should ensure adequate clearance of the foot and preventing slap foot or drop foot.
The AFO should not deteriorate the stability and reduce the push off power. The normal movement pattern during walking should not be hindered.