AFOs – A Down To Earth Guide on Ankle Foot Orthoses and Orthopedic Braces – Part 13

The Difference Between Traditional AFOs & CAM Walkers

CAM Walkers are effective orthopedic braces that should not be confused with AFOs. Yes, it is considered to be an orthosis for the ankle and foot, but there are large differences between a CAM walker and a traditional AFO.

What Does “CAM” Stand For?

CAM is an acronym that stands for “controlled ankle motion”. These kinds of orthopedic braces are like removable casts for patients, except better. Many times patient’s will wean into one after a cast is removed. The benefits here are that a CAM Walker can be removed so the patient can monitor their skin and clean themselves. From here, eventually, a patient can then wean into an AFO when the physician

sees fit.

Why Would A Patient Use A Cast Instead of A Cam Walker?

Interestingly enough, patient’s might not go directly into a CAM walker after an ankle or foot fracture. For example, if the physician is concerned that the patient might now wear the orthosis provided, or it will worn incorrectly, then a cast might be applied and left on for these reasons. Not everyone is able to notice whether they have a brace on correctly (due to confusion or not being alert) and this is a major reason why a cast might stay on instead.

What Do These Braces Look Like?

CAM walkers usually have an open toe, are gray or black in color, and will also have tread and a rocker bottom on the plantar surface. (The plantar surface is considered to be the bottom of the foot.) These braces are typically prefabricated. These orthopedic devices also typically come up your leg as high as a traditional AFO (ankle foot orthosis). This means that a CAM walker will come up to the widest part of the calf for most people. As a result of having tread and a rocker bottom, as opposed to a traditional AFO, the patient does not have to put them inside a shoe, in the vast majority of cases. Why? Because of the presence of the rocker bottom and tread, these brace are already like their own shoe in effect.

Closing The Toe On A Cam Walker

If you are a professional in any field, or a student perhaps, then your association with work or school may insist that you have closed toe footwear. Yes, it is probably to protect your toes. You can also probably assume that closed toe footwear is required for insurance reasons as well. CAM “boots” as they are sometimes called (incorrectly) do not usually have a closed toe, so if you need one added to your orthosis, then do not worry. You can go to your local, licensed orthotist and they can help provide this for you.

* This is health information. Brace scenarios can vary slightly, so it is best to get medical advice from your local, licensed orthotist regarding your particular situation.