Waiting on a new AFO in this house, at least for me, is a little like waiting on Christmas Day. You know it's coming and waiting just one more day for something you so badly want (and need) feels like eternity. But finally, on Friday, it was Christmas here yet again. Oia and I picked up her new brace.
She has been in her previous AFO since mid-March, which means she's been in the same pair of tennis shoes that long as well. For the last 7 months, she's wore the same shoes from the time she woke in the morning until she bathed in the evening; only AFO/shoe free time is during nap. Honestly, her shoes may not have held up another day... but I'm not complaining. A lot of miles and hard work goes into wearing out a good pair of tennis shoes!
Obviously a new, larger brace needs new, larger shoes. Ahhh, shoe shopping for Oia. Not my most favorite of times to say the least, considering Oia needs a missized pair of shoes to accommodate the brace which no one has been willing to sell us in the past. Left foot is currently a size 8-8.5 and right foot with AFO is a 9-9.5 WIDE. Previously, we had to buy 2 pairs of shoes; one pair in each size. Then pull one shoe from each pair to make Oia's odd pair. It's wasteful and oh so ever aggravating when the sales clerk offers a minimal discount on the 2nd pair as if to do us a favor, if they even bother to offer a discount at all. But headache and cuss words no more.... thank you NORDSTROM. Nordstrom sold us a missized pair of shoes last weekend without blinking an eye. And, (it gets even better) they offered to order any shoe we needed, regardless of whether or not it was currently on their display, in whatever sizes we needed. My life just got a whole lot easier and Little Miss now has two, DIFFERENT pairs of shoes to wear this winter with her new brace because every girl deserves some variety. She will be either sporting around in pink and gray Saucony tennis shoes or a 'dressier' pair of brown and pink Stride Rite tennies. A choice. A first. This is nice.
One new pair: right insole and tongue removed = the perfect fit. And the velcro strap on this pair didn't need lengthened, another first. I think I heard angels singing at check-out.
New AFO is slightly different than what we've had before. It is a two-part brace, for a lack of better terms, and the hinge functions a bit differently than what we're used to. The hinge is springy and gives Oia's leg more input to flex at the ankle. This gives her a bit of assistance in lifting her foot into dorsiflexion so her foot/toes don't drag as much with each step. It really seems to be helping. Also, we must first insert Oia's foot into a "shell", making sure her heel is all the way down. Then once that is in place, we slide her foot back into the brace itself and strap her in tightly, making sure again that her heel is down and ankle is as close to 90 degrees as possible. The whole purpose of the "shell" (SMO I think it's called) is to give her foot the extra hold it requires to keep her properly positioned in her brace. Kiddos with CP who experience muscle tightness have a tendency to "pop out" of their brace and this extra casing around her foot really keeps her heel down. Her calf muscles and hamstrings are getting tighter as she continues to grow so having her heel down is crucial. One bad thing about the extra layer of plastic though... her feet sweat terribly inside of it.
Brace shown separated, shell inserts back into hinged portion.
Brace as a whole
Oia is usually able to wear each brace anywhere from 6-7 months before outgrowing them and getting recasted for another. New brace will get us through the winter which translates to no more shoe shopping until spring. Yay!