So, a while back I mentioned that Oia was a "model" for Allard, the company that makes KiddieGAIT braces. As part of the evening, Oia was able to demo the new brace while a room full of therapists and other related specialists watched her perform/walk while wearing it. The goal for Rob and I in this event was to see if this style of brace would be more beneficial to her than her previous pairs; all made by Cascade, which we knew were not the best braces for her. Cascades, for Oia, seemed to limit movement as opposed to facilitate it.
Pictured is the KiddieGAIT shown with an SMO insert, all inserted into Oia's shoe as shown:
It's been roughly a month now since wearing this KiddieGAIT and after much analyzing and discussing, the consensus is that this brace isn't has miraculous as we hoped it would be but it is still the better option of the two.
Here are the two main issues we are facing:
~ Toe walking. Oia has always walked high on her right toes. Left foot has the range and tone to remain flat but in order to make life easier for herself, Oia has begun raising to her left toes in recent months to level the playing field, so to speak. Image walking on just the tippy-toes of one foot... smart girl has figured to just walk high on both feet. She lowers her left foot to flat while stationary but resumes on all toes again in motion. Left leg and hip bears the majority of her weight, if not all, while standing.
~ Hamstring tightness and knee flexion, right side. Regardless of the brace, either Cascade or KiddieGAIT, Oia's ankles are always correctly positioned at 90 degrees. The problem is her inability to straighten her right knee due to very tight upper leg muscles. We have always been so focused on the muscles below the knee more than the muscles above the knee and the KiddieGAIT's make this upper leg issue more evident. I guess we chalk this up to a positive as it is quite clear where to shift our focus now.
By comparison, the KiddieGAIT functions similarly on Oia as the Cascades did. No obvious changes have been noted other than the fact that it does seem to allow Oia a more symmetrical gait, or equal strides. It is a more open brace which doesn't cause her foot to sweat as much and what is even more important to me is the fact that this new brace is obviously more comfortable to Oia. At the end of the day, her right foot is not swollen and purple-ish which is a true indicator that her foot is not fighting the restrictions that the plastic Cascades posed on her foot.
So for now, we will remain wearing the KiddieGAIT. Oia has an appointment with her ortho doctor next week which can't come soon enough. We have our plates full of questions regarding another potential round of Botox, this time in her right hamstring and the biggest of all questions - lengthening surgery. We know this is coming sooner than later and frankly, we're ready to do it as soon as possible. We have tried serial casting, Botox, experimented with bracing, and next week we will even be dappling with the taping method so stay tuned for that adventure. There is not much else left to ease the tightness aside from surgical intervention. Hard to believe that after almost 4 years, that's where we are already.