You will be able to choose the following for the AFO:
- Color and design of the hard outer plastic shell
- Color of the Velcro (if applicable)
- Transfers – please check with your orthotist as availability may vary by clinic
Your orthotist will have samples to show you, but you may want to select from these colors and patterns before your appointment.
A properly fitting shoe is critical to the AFOs functioning effectively and ensuring that your child continues to wear the AFOs. Your orthotist may order orthopedic shoes for you, or he or she may ask you to bring a variety of shoes to your fitting appointment so that together you can find which pair works best. Ask your orthotist.
If you’re selecting shoes for your child, there are a few things you want to keep in mind:
- A removable insole and wide toe box will allow more room inside for the orthosis.
- Shoe ties or straps and an extended shoe tongue to make it easier to put shoes on over the brace.
- Shoes that come up over the ankle, such as high-tops, may offer better heel and ankle support, but could interfere with some AFO designs. Check with your orthotist for more guidance.
Orthopedic shoe brands that are specially designed to be worn with orthoses include Answer2 and Keeping Pace. Other shoes you may consider are Champion, DC, Dinosoles, Fila, Keen, Merrell, New Balance, Nike (especially the Flyease), Peak, PLAE, Skechers, Stride Rite and Vans.
- If your child is wearing a bulky brace on one leg, you may need to buy two pairs of shoes, one larger size and one smaller size, to fit each foot.
- Find the smallest shoe that will fit the orthosis, as your child could trip more easily in shoes that are too long. You should have to work at pushing the braced foot into the shoe, and a shoe horn may help.
- Canvas shoes can be altered to allow more room in the toe box by snipping a few of the threads connecting the toe box to the tongue.
- If your child wears an orthosis on one side, you’ll want to make sure that his or her legs are the same length while standing up in the brace and shoes. That may require a custom insole on the non-braced side. Your orthotist can suggest a solution to ensure that both legs are the same height.
Check out these blogs for more shoe ideas and tips:
- Just like with orthopedic shoes, some socks are specially designed to be worn with AFOs. They are moisture-wicking, seamless and wrinkle-resistant. If your child wears Scootz AFOs, they will be delivered with a pair of AFO socks.
- If you’re purchasing socks for your child, look for snugly fitting cotton blend tube socks. Athletic socks such as those used for soccer can be worn inside out and folded down over the orthosis when your child prefers to be discreet about wearing AFOs.
- The most important consideration when choosing socks is to find a comfortable fit with the AFO that your child is likely to continue wearing.
Finding A Community
Your family is not alone in your journey. Although each child’s situation is unique, there are many other people who are experiencing similar challenges and emotions. We want to make it easy for you to hear from other Hanger Clinic families and to find educational and support resources online.
Read the success stories of Amber Konkol and Brooklyn Gibney.
Hear from a few Hanger Clinic parents:
“We wanted somebody that would listen to us, try new things, be able to work well with children, see their needs, and give them the opportunities that other children their age have. Hanger has really been there and listened to us and worked well with us.”
– Bob’s mom
“We work really closely with our orthotist. He works really closely with our therapist as well, and they get together and talk about what Mack needs. So that’s really good that they have such a good working relationship, and it’s not always us relaying information from the therapist to the orthotist and maybe losing stuff in there.”
– Mack’s mom
“When I saw her walking and standing for the first time, I was so proud. Because every father dreams of walking with their daughter down the aisle, and I thought ‘well, maybe someday…’ They built this [reciprocal gait orthosis or RGO] for her. It fights her nice and snug. It’s easy to get in and get out. It’s nice to be able to see your daughter standing. It’s something I never thought I’d be able to do. So I’m really proud of her and thankful to Hanger for everything they’ve done.”
– Hannah’s dad
Connect with these organizations to find more resources: