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Prosthet Orthot Int. 2011 Mar;35(1):54-69. doi: 10.1177/0309364610394477.

Development of a method for fabricating polypropylene non-articulated dorsiflexion assist ankle foot orthoses with predetermined stiffness.

Author information

1
University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Department of Orthopedic Surgery and Rehabilitation, Oklahoma, USA. ramseyoandp@gmail.com

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

A non-articulated plantarflexion resist ankle foot orthosis (AFO), commonly known as a posterior leaf spring AFO, is indicated for patients with motor impairment to the dorsiflexors. The AFO is often custom molded to a patient's lower limb anatomy and fabricated from polypropylene. There are no established guidelines for fabricating this type of AFO with predetermined stiffness of the ankle region for normal walking speeds. Therefore an AFO may not meet the biomechanical needs of the patient.

OBJECTIVES:

Quantify the biomechanical ankle stiffness requirement for an individual with complete dorsiflexor impairment and develop a method for fabricating an AFO with ankle stiffness to meet that requirement.

STUDY DESIGN:

Experimental, bench research.

METHODS:

The literature on sagittal biomechanics of non-pathological adults was reviewed to derive the stiffness of the ankle during loading response. Computer models of 144 AFOs were created with geometric variations to account for differences in human anthropometrics. Computer-based finite element analysis was employed to determine the stiffness and safety factor of the models.

RESULTS:

Stiffness of the AFOs ranged from 0.04 to 1.8 Nm/deg. This ample range is expected to account for the stiffness required for most adults with complete dorsiflexor impairment. At 5° deflection the factor of safety (ratio of strength to stress) ranged from 2.8 to 9.1. A computer program was generated that computes AFO stiffness from user-input variables of AFO geometry. The stiffness is compared to a theoretically appropriate stiffness based on the patient mass. The geometric variables can be modified until there is a close match, resulting in AFO design specification that is appropriate for the patient.

CONCLUSION:

Through validation on human subjects, this method may benefit patient outcomes in clinical practice by avoiding the current uncertainty surrounding AFO performance and reducing the labor and time involved in rectifying a custom AFO post-fabrication.

CLINICAL RELEVANCE:

This method provides an avenue for improving patient outcomes by avoiding the current uncertainty surrounding non-articulated plantarflexion resist ankle foot orthosis performance. The ability to quantify the biomechanical ankle stiffness requirement for an individual with complete dorsiflexor impairment provides insight into how other AFO types should be designed as well.

PMID:
21515890
DOI:
10.1177/0309364610394477
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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