Tips for parents of pediatric orthotic patients
When you have a child in need of an ankle-foot orthosis or AFO, it can be stressful trying to choose the best style and fit. That is where we come in. Our orthotist will help you and your child feel at ease from ordering to wearing pediatric orthotics. At your appointment, we will do a variety of things to achieve the proper fit, function, and style.
During the appointment
We will begin by taking your child’s measurements to assure a custom fit. You and your child will be able to choose the color and design of your custom orthosis. With the variety of colors and patterns available, your child can choose an option that fits their unique personality. There will also be samples on hand for you to look at. What to keep in mind for pediatric orthotics:
AFO choices you will be able to make:
- The hard outer plastic shell color and design
- Velcro color (if necessary)
- Custom Transfers
An important part of wearing the AFO is a properly fitting shoe. The shoe your child wears needs to be comfortable and secure so that your child continues wearing the AFO. Depending on your child’s specific needs, your orthotist may order custom orthopedic shoes for you or you may be able to choose your own provided you bring them to the appointment and let the specialist determine if they will work best. Here are some tips on selecting shoes for your child to wear with his or her AFO:
- A shoe with a sole that is removable will create more room for the orthosis
- For ease of brace fitting, shoes with an extended tongue and straps or ties work best
- High tops or shoes with a higher ankle may better support the ankle but may not fit with the AFO
- There are a variety of modern brands that are designed to fit with an AFO, check with your orthotist for a list
You may need to purchase two sizes of shoes to accommodate the two different foot sizes, one for the brace and one without. You should focus on finding the smallest shoe size that fits the orthosis. Any shoe that is too large could create a tripping hazard. Using a simple shoe horn will help to get the braced foot in the tight shoe. If you opt for a canvas shoe, you may be able to snip a few threads on the tog to increase the ease of putting the shoe on. Also, the non-braced shoe may require an insert to create balance and assure that both legs are the same height.
The sock is the only barrier between the AFO, shoe and the skin. There are socks that are purposely designed to be worn with AFO’s. Socks that are moisture-wicking, wrinkle resistant and seamless work best. Another feature to look for is a cotton blend; the socks need to be breathable yet hold their shape.
Even though every child and family’s situation is unique, you are not alone in your journey. A great way to feel more at ease with your situation is to connect with others who have similar challenges. There are many support groups available for you and your child. Your orthotist will be able to steer you in the right direction for meeting similar families.
When your child needs an AFO it can be stressful at first. If you contact the professionals at OP Centers, our customized service and our experienced staff will guide you and your family every step of the way.