What is an orthotic and how do they help my child?

by | Jun 21, 2019 | Physical Therapy

Orthotics can play a vital role in a child’s function and physical therapists are often the first to determine the need for orthotics. Physical therapists assess the range of motion, strength, muscle tone, foot alignment, and overall functional mobility of the child in order to determine if your child would benefit from using orthotics.

There are 2 main uses for orthotics: when a child is hypertonic (high tone) or hypotonic (low tone). Hypertonicity is described as a consistent increase in muscle tension as compared to a resting level and hypotonicity is described as a consistent decrease in muscle tension. When a child is found to be hypertonic, an orthotic can assist in reducing the effect of an abnormal reflex that is triggered by a prolonged stretch of a certain muscle, and in the ankle/foot this muscle is the gastrocnemius and soleus complex. When a child is hypotonic, an orthotic can assist in stability and alignment of the ankle or foot.

Why wear orthotics? Wearing orthotics will assist in overall functional mobility and improve the alignment of the lower extremity to allow for the strengthening of appropriate musculature.

There are many types of orthotics, but I will list a few of the most common:

  1. Foot Orthosis– Used for foot alignment.
  2. Supra Malleolar Orthosis (SMO)- Used for foot and ankle stability.
  3. Posterior Leaf Spring Ankle Foot Orthosis (AFO)- Used to prevent foot slap and assist in lifting the foot during ambulation and ankle stability.
  4. Articulating Ankle Foot Orthosis with Dorsiflexion or Plantarflexion Stops– Assists in ankle stability and assists in lifting the foot or clearing the foot during the swing phase of ambulation.
  5. Solid Ankle Foot Orthosis- Assists in bending the knee and resists hyperextension of the knee. Also allows for ankle stability.

If you have any concerns for your child’s mobility or questions regarding orthotics, reach out to any of our physical therapists at the Surprise or Peoria location as we would be more than happy to help!

Lauren Yoshida, PT, DPT, ATC

Lauren Yoshida