Durability and Consistency of construction are key for an energy storing AFO. There are many companies out there making Carbon AFO’s with similar energy storing designs. Most of these orthoses have some amount of Dynamic resistance that will assist the patient. When the patient has had no energy return from their orthosis in the past. This can seem wonderful!
- If the patient has zero calf strength and the orthosis only produces half the resistance/return they need, they will not be able to walk with a normal gait pattern.
- If the orthosis does produce the correct resistance/return but the Carbon structure fatigues and breaks in a few months. The frustration outweighs the benefit.
Bio-Mechanical Composites has been producing Energy Storing AFO’s for 18 years. We test the resistance/return of each Carbon structure to +/- 1 lbs. This requires the use of the same standards used in the carbon fabrication methods of aircraft components. We have tested the structure of the IDEO, Re-Aktiv, Exo-Sym, and other PLS and Helios Carbon designs. They all have a variable of resistance/return of greater than 10 lbs in resistance.
Durability in a Carbon (Pre-preg) AFO is measured in its cycle-rate. This is how many times the structure can be bent, consistent with the amount of bend it will experience in use, before the structure of the orthosis will fracture/break. Common ambulation consist of 2-3 millions steps a year. Bio-Mechanical Comp, Inc. takes into account that all ambulation is not within the normal range. Accordingly we have set up our fabrication protocols to achieve a 20 million cycle-rate.
In order to have any consistency in cycle rates, a company needs to have very exact fabrication protocols. In evaluation of all the custom Carbon AFO manufactures, They all use a one off fabrication approach; witch means a differing process for each orthosis fabricated. This offers very few aspects of control and can not even be evaluated for a cycle-rate.
Bio-Mechanical Comp. Inc. utilizes FAA protocols for its carbon fabrication. This means that every Carbon structure is documented with a serial number that can be traced to the exact lay up of materials, their handling, time exposure to temperature and the temperature and pressure conditions in its curing process. Cycle-Rate is like making a cake. If you have a very detailed recipe and you stick to it, each additional cake you make will taste just as good. If you keep changing parts of the recipe, they will never taste the same.