Effects of joint alignment and type on mechanical properties of thermoplastic articulated ankle-foot orthosis

Fan Gao, William Carlton, Susan Kapp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Background: Articulated or hinged ankle-foot orthosis (AFO) allow more range of motion. However, quantitative investigation on articulated AFO is still sparse. Objective: The objective of the study was to quantitatively investigate effects of alignment and joint types on mechanical properties of the thermoplastic articulated AFO. Study design: Tamarack dorsiflexion assist flexure joints with three durometers (75, 85 and 95) and free motion joint were tested. The AFO joint was aligned with the center of the motor shaft (surrogate ankle joint), 10mm superior, inferior, anterior and posterior with respect to the motor shaft center. Methods: The AFO was passively moved from 20plantar flexion to 15dorsiflexion at a speed of 10/s using a motorized device. Mechanical properties including index of hysteresis, passive resistance torque and quasi-static stiffness (at neutral, 5, 10and 15in plantar flexion) were quantified. Results: Significant effects of joint types and joint alignment on the mechanical properties of an articulated thermoplastic AFO were revealed. Specifically, center alignment showed minimum resistance and stiffness while anterior and posterior alignment showed significantly higher resistance and stiffness. The dorsiflexion assist torques at neutral position ranged from 0.69±.09 to 1.88±.10 Nm. Conclusions: Anterior and posterior alignment should be avoided as much as possible. Clinical relevance The current study suggested that anterior and posterior alignment be avoided as much as possible in clinical practice due to potential skin irritation and increase in stress around the ankle joint.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)181-189
Number of pages9
JournalProsthetics and Orthotics International
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the American Heart Association [grant number 09SDG2080460].


  • Ankle-foot orthosis
  • Dorsiflexion assist joint
  • Misalignment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Professions (miscellaneous)
  • Rehabilitation


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