Mechanical Aids

Specific devices sometimes are made for certain individuals to counteract spasticity and prevent what are termed contractures, in which the range of movement possible for a given joint becomes restricted as the result of spasticity. For example, a "toe spreader" or "finger spreader" is used to relax tightness in the feet and hands and to aid in mobility. Braces for the wrist, foot, and hand are used to maintain a natural position and to prevent limitations on movement and the development of deformities. These devices are called orthoses. An orthosis for the foot is an ankle-foot orthosis, or AFO. AFOs are made to place the foot at many different angles to the ankle. A good orthotist can make a brace to take stress off the knee. Hinges may increase flexibility. All orthoses should be customized to allow for maximal benefit.

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