What is foot drop and how to normalize gait with AFO brace
May 27, 2021
What is foot drop and how to normalize gait with AFO brace

What is foot drop(drop foot)?

Foot drop is a general term of a condition in which you cannot raise the part of your feet. Various neurological or orthopedic conditions can result in a condition of the lower extremity called foot drop.

Foot drop is caused when changes in muscle tone in the foot and leg affect coordination and strength resulting in an inability to flex the ankle or lift the forefoot.

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Why is it important to treat foot drop?

A small thing like not being able to tap your toes can seem inconsequential but, if left untreated, can lead to gait abnormalities, injury to the foot or leg, increased fall risk, or postural deformity. In order to compensate for poor foot control, people with foot drop adopt compensatory movements, such as excessively lifting at the hip or over-flexing the knee ― a pattern known as steppage gait. This gait pattern can lead to cascading compensatory postures throughout the body, which can lead to pain or impairments in other areas.

Foot brace for Drop Foot Management & Ankle Stability

Decreased sensation in the foot often accompanies foot drop. As a result, when individuals with foot drop scuff their toes along the ground or bump against objects in their path, they can injure themselves without being aware. These small injuries can become worse with repetition or lead to infection.

How can I improve my foot drop?

Foot drop can be mild to severe, unilateral or bilateral. The first line of treatment often involves the use of ankle foot orthoses(AFO brace).

Ankle foot orthoses, AFO for foot drop, are frequently prescribed to improve gait deviation and normalize walking patterns in patients with drop foot hemiplegia disorder. In healthy individuals, the functional lower limb shortening which is hip & knee flexion and ankle dorsiflexion mainly achieve toe clearance. By the way, reduction of toe clearance of the affected foot derived from ankle joint disability causes the abnormal movement of knee and hip hike to compensate for the ankle movement. It is a major cause of falls in patients with foot drop disorder.


Conventional AFO for foot drop is used to restrict ankle plantarflexion/dorsiflexion movement, thus maintaining the hemiparetic foot in a fixed position of dorsiflexion to facilitate swing. However, this ROM restriction in the ankle joint disrupts the rhythm of gait and increases energy consumption during walking. To alleviate this issue, hinge-applied AFO braces were developed to allow some ankle flexibility during the loading response on the affected lower limb, thus slightly reducing the energy cost of hemiparetic gait. It is generally called Dynamic Ankle Foot Orthosis(DAFO). Dynamic Ankle Foot Orthosis(DAFO) generally refers to a custom-made Supra-Malleolar Orthosis fabricated from thin thermoplastic material. It fits the foot intimately and the flexible and thin thermoplastic use means that DAFO can provide circumferential control of the rear and forefoot to maintain a neutral alignment. In the original designs of DAFOs, a ‘neurological’ footplate was often incorporated that consisted of a pad at the peroneal & calf site with dorsiflexing the toes.

These days, the prefabricated DAFOs are common and those are usually applied with shoes to use in daily life especially in outdoor activities.


Who needs a Dynamic Ankle Foot Orthotic (DAFO)?

  • Individuals who have had foot drop after stroke or other neurological deficits as well as nerve injuries resulting in abnormal gait.
  • Those who need to regain the rhythm of gait and increase energy efficiency during walking.


Before buying an AFO, check if the orthosis...

  • is tested by experts
  • is easy to wear with shoes
  • supports the ankle and keep dorsiflexed properly
  • keeps the ankle and foot from inverting and dropping
  • allows ankle mobility for a various movement like squat and lunge
  • provides support only where it is needed, swapping unnecessary bulk for a slim fit and cosmetically-appealing look
  • promotes balance improvement through correction of limb asymmetry and hip joint compensation

Neofect STEP Dynamic AFO


*Buy Neofect STEP here

Neofect STEP is designed to support the ankle and keep the foot dorsiflexed by the Neofect’s expert physical therapist. The main purpose of AFO is to keep the ankle and foot from inverting and dropping at the initial contact and toe-off phase. Also, neutral foot positioning assist ensures a secure heel strike, while ankle joint stabilization corrects varus/valgus positioning in mid-stance. Dynamic dorsiflexion through the elastomer ankle joint ensures toe clearance during the swing phase. This can be caused by nerve injury, muscle or nerve disorders, brain or spinal cord disorders. With its flexible/supportive hinge component, an AFO helps individuals walk more naturally while lifting the foot and keeping the ankle in alignment.


Foot drop causes the toes to drag on the ground, creating the need for gait changes to compensate to clear the foot. It’s forcefully making you use those muscles that have atrophy, so you can see a difference when not wearing it. Also, it provides enough range of motion to still be able to squat, lunge and perform a higher level of balance. And the foot-plate supports approximately of foot length. It retains flexibility and prevents paresthesia in the toes.

Neofect STEP provides a strong, lightweight solution to support people with a range of walking disorders caused by a variety of neurological and musculoskeletal disorders.

To purchase Neofect STEP, please visit here.


Further reading:

What Does A Foot Drop Brace Do?

Other support and brace products:



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