Neil can be sporty again thanks to unique SAFO

A former rugby player says Dorset Orthopaedic’s revolutionary silicone ankle foot orthosis (SAFO) has enabled him to be a more active father, rugby coach and teacher.

Neil Joisce, 42, from Southampton, has been wearing a SAFO — made by leading prosthetics, orthotics and mobility clinic Dorset Orthopaedic — on his ankle for more than ten years after hearing about it from a friend.

He needs the SAFO to correct the effects of drop foot, after suffering a devastating injury while playing a rugby match. The former flanker needed a full knee reconstruction, but he also severed the peroneal nerve, which helps flexion of the foot when walking.

Initially, Neil, who is a special educational needs teacher and also a coach at Tottonians RFC, wore a rigid ankle-foot orthosis, or AFO, but he found it very restrictive.

He said: “I couldn’t do much wearing it, as it had rigid parts at the front and the back. I couldn’t run after the kids, for example, or do anything sporty. Also it looked more obvious too.”

The SAFO, which comes in seven different skin tones or a colour or pattern of the wearer’s choice — Neil’s current SAFO has a Union Jack pattern on it — is much more discreet and can be worn with or without a shoe. It’s easy to fit, clean and maintain and allows for a more natural foot and ankle action and lifts the foot while walking.

“First and foremost, I love my SAFO because it’s so comfortable,” said Neil. “Secondly, the design and style of it is really discreet and most people don’t even know I wear it. Finally, it enables me to move more. It’s not restrictive, I can be more active with my two wonderful sons, and I can get back to being the sporty person I was before the injury.”