• Janique Lewis

AFO Mini Series - Part 1 - Fior & Gentz

Updated: Jul 24

We are very excited to kick off our mini series on AFO’s (Ankle Foot Orthoses). Let us know if you find something in our posts in the next few months that you think might put back the kick into your step too!

First off – a little bit of background on AFO’s:

This class of orthoses, foot splint or assistive device, includes a wide variety of products that fit over the foot and ankle but does not include the knee joint. They are used for a variety of conditions, including drop foot due to nerve damage, weakness after a stroke or spinal injury, and positioning of feet and ankles in people with complex disabilities. Their main functions include assisting with toe-clearance when walking, helping provide better foot and ankle alignment and giving better stability when putting weight on the affected leg.

With each condition, a different type of AFO is required in order to meet the specific needs of the patient. Static or rigid AFO’s are used when stability and anatomical alignment are most important. Dynamic, flexible or hinged AFO’s are used when ankle movement is important but the patient needs assistance or control in dorsiflexion (picking up the toes) or plantarflexion (pointing the toes).

In some cases a standard size and design is adequate to give a person the function and/or stability that have been lost or compromised. In other, more complex, cases custom AFO’s are needed to control the lower limb and allow mobilizing safely. We will be discussing a different AFO or AFO component every few weeks, and fitting them into the wider picture of the interesting landscape that makes up the world of lower limb orthotics.

Fior & Gentz joints

Founded in 1997 in Germany, the Fior and Gentz company have been developing products that are used across the world in the orthotics industry.

They have a wide range of ankle joints that can be used in custom AFO’s to assist and control ankle motion.

Ranging from free-swinging motion to controlled dorsi- and plantarflexion, these ankle joints have something for almost everyone’s needs. With a waterproof joint in their product range, you can now go swimming with your specialized AFO too. (FIOR & GENTZ, Lüneburg)

The F&G Neuro Swing System is most often used in the patient group with neurological conditions, such as strokes, MS (multiple sclerosis), TBI (traumatic brain injury) and peripheral neuropathy. These joints comprise of a compartment/s that houses a spring with a stop. The spring force and stops determine the amount of dorsiflexion assist is given, how much plantarflexion control is provided and what the range of motion is in the ankle joint of the AFO.

Let’s look at the biggest benefits using these joints:

  • Using stainless steel, titanium and aluminium joints means that you have a very durable component in your AFO. Even the waterproof joint is very strong, using carbon fiber instead of alloys.

  • Using an adjustable anterior and posterior spring unit to give controlled dorsi- and plantarflexion, great stability and control in walking and standing is achieved.

  • After the joint has been fitted, the alignment of the AFO can still be adjusted.

  • The spring force and the range of motion can be adjusted by exchanging the spring units.

  • The anterior and posterior stops and springs do not influence each other and can be changed independently.

  • The modular design of the Neuro Swing system ankle joint, makes it easy to change the functional unit of the joint to a different one in the Neuro range, if the initial joint is not doing what is needed.

Although the joints are bulkier compared to traditional AFO metal joints, they have a lot more function and adjustability. The size of the joint may influence the type of footwear one has to use with these types of AFO’s. Sticking to the same heel height shoe helps create a stable base to maximise the correct function of the joint as the joint is aligned to the shoe and the client.

We’d love to hear from you if you think you might benefit from an AFO using one of these specialized joints. Put the spring back into your step with an F&G joint today!

To look at more joints from Fior & Gentz, visit their website:

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