Orthotics are inserts, braces or splints to support the function of movable parts of the body. While many times they are worn for a short period of time, usually after an injury or surgery, some braces are used to address long term or chronic conditions. An example of some common conditions for which long term use of an orthoses may be prescribed include osteoarthritis, scoliosis, back pain, drop foot and flat foot.
Some orthotic braces are used passively, meaning they simply support the injured or weakened body part. A common example of this type of device is an ankle foot orthoses (AFO) that is used to address drop foot, a common symptom after a stroke that results in the loss of the ability to control the ankle joint. The use of an AFO in this situation maintains the correct position of the foot and ankle, allowing the patient to walk without stumbling and potentially falling.