New Braces (AFO’s) to Fight Tone
High muscle tone is a big problem for many people after brain injury. It can be painful, limits movement, and if left unchecked can lead to long term issues such as joint problems and skin breakdown.
Ashleigh has fought high muscle tone since her brain injury in 1999. She recently was fitted for some new AFO’s for her legs. These braces help support her when she is up in her chair and in therapy, especially in walking. She had her old braces for about five years and some fairly recent changes made the old braces an issue.
Ashleigh had tendon lengthening surgery at Northwestern University Hospital while she was a patient at the Rehab Institute of Chicago in 2005. After the surgery there was an amazing difference in her feet and ankles as the years of tone was reversed.
We have recently seen the tone sneaking back in and starting to turn the left foot in again. The braces made after her tendon lengthening surgery were not made to counteract that tone. The new braces will hopefully be able to get the foot back in its proper position. In addition, Ashleigh is scheduled for some botox injections later this month. Hopefully with the botox and the new braces we can correct the tone. We are still in the phase where she can only tolerate the braces for about an hour at a time and we are checking for any skin breakdown.
The AFO’s have some bumps strategically placed to hit the pressure points under the foot to help break the tone. Ted, our orthotist at Hanger, also did a separate liner which is supposed to help her tolerate the braces longer. We have had a couple of different companies make AFO’s over the years and finding the right person is the key. Try to get as many recommendations as you can when looking for an orthotist. The process may also require some adjustments to the braces.