Whether it’s to help them recover from an injury to correct a condition they’ve had throughout childhood, an ankle-foot orthosis, or AFO, can be as much of a hassle as it can be a help. However, it doesn’t necessarily have to be that way. If your kid has to wear pediatric orthotics, here are a few tips that can help them keep it a lot more comfortable.
Make sure you go with the right shoe providers
It’s possible for your child to wear regular shoes that have no orthotic purposes when they already have a brace, but it’s essential that the shoe fits well. It has to be both comfortable and secure. You might have to consider buying two sizes of shoes to accommodate two different foot sizes, as well. Amongst your top considerations should be removable soles to make more room for the orthosis, an extended tongue to make fitting it on around the brace easier and getting an insert to make it easier to remove again. You want to choose the smallest possible shoes that fit the orthosis, as large shoes can easily become a tripping hazard. The shoe worn on the foot that isn’t wearing the orthosis may also benefit from having an insert that can correct any height difference and help with your child’s balance.
Regular old socks won’t provide much comfort. It’s the only thing separating the foot from the AFO and the shoe, which means that if they don’t stand up to the added demand, they will quickly become uncomfortable. There are specifically made AFO socks for kids that are able to reduce and expel moisture, are resistant to wrinkles that cause more chafing on the skin and are seamless. AFO socks should be form-fitting, yet breathable, to ensure that the stuffiness and heat that a regular sock might suffer is no problem. Normal socks simply get too uncomfortable, too quickly for kids that are wearing an ankle-foot orthosis.
Adding a little extra support
A child wearing an AFO might not necessarily need orthotic shoes, but they can be a good investment. For one, orthotic shoe providers make it much easier to choose shoes in two different sizes and have shoes suited to the shape and size of the AFO itself, making them much easier to take off and put on around the orthosis. What’s more, they can actually help the work of the AFO itself, by adding a little extra support and bracing. You might also want to consider shoe orthotics, which are medical devices worn inside shoes that can provide a similar kind of result.
Naturally, if you have concerns about whether they have the right shoes or socks, or you’re concerned that they’re having more trouble with their AFO than they should be, it’s a wise decision to get their doctor involved in the discussion. A good orthotics doctor should be able to point you in the direction of brands and types of footwear that have helped other patients of theirs in the past as well.