Best Shoes for Children Who Wear AFOs with Wedges – Extra Deep to Accommodate the Wedges

Does your child wear Ankle-Foot Orthoses (AFOs) with wedges and you can’t seem to find a single pair of shoes that fit? AFOs with wedges play a critical role in helping children with various lower limb conditions achieve better stability, improved gait, and enhanced overall mobility. However, because of the extra space the wedges take it can be extremely frustrating and time-consuming to find shoes that can accommodate them. In light of my extensive experience in shoe and orthotic fitting, I will present you with a selection of the best shoes for children who wear AFOs with wedges.

Physical and occupational therapists refer families to the shoe store where I work to be fitted for supportive shoes and orthotics. We get a lot of families who bring their AFOs with them and we need to help them find the correct type of shoes. Every time a family brings AFOs with wedges it is a bit more challenging to find shoes that fit, but over the years I became familiar with which shoe brands and styles work better than others.

First Tip: If you are in a rush you can go directly to the selection of the best shoes to wear AFOs with wedges.

What Are Ankle-Foot Orthoses (AFOs) and What is Referred to as AFOs with Wedges?

More generally, Ankle-Foot Orthoses, more frequently known as AFOs, are among the most commonly prescribed lower limb orthoses. They can be custom-made for children and they usually encompass the foot, ankle, and leg, finishing just below the knee, although not in all cases. 

In reference to AFOs with wedges, these are often a specialized type of orthopedic footwear designed to provide support and stability for children with certain medical conditions that affect their lower limbs. AFOs with wedges take this concept a step further by incorporating a wedge-shaped sole or insole into the design of the orthosis. This wedge serves a specific purpose – it can help correct or accommodate issues related to leg length discrepancies, limb alignment and foot positioning. 

4 Key Things to Know About AFOs with Wedges

1️⃣ Leg Length Discrepancy Correction: Leg length discrepancies can cause a range of problems, including back pain and gait abnormalities. AFOs with wedges are often used to address these discrepancies by adding a lift wedge to the shorter leg’s AFO, allowing for a more balanced and comfortable gait. 

2️⃣ Improved Gait: The wedge within the AFO can help promote a more natural and efficient gait pattern. This is especially important for children with conditions like cerebral palsy as it can assist in proper foot clearance during the swing phase of walking. 

3️⃣ Shoes Compatibility: When using AFOs with edges, it’s essential to select compatible shoes, that are suited to accommodate AFOs making it easier for children to have comfortable and supportive options. 

4️⃣ Regular Follow-ups: Children who wear AFOs with wedges typically require regular follow-up appointments with their healthcare providers to monitor the effectiveness of the orthosis and make necessary adjustments. 

Must-Have Features to Look For in Your AFO-Friendly Shoes

Most of the shoes that I recommend are made with soft, flexible mesh upper with minimal seams that won’t irritate feet. The following are the 3 must-have features to consider when selecting shoes for children who wear AFOs with wedges:

➡️ Oversized Openings for Easy On & Off: This feature allows parents to easily slide the AFO inside the shoes so they don’t have to struggle every time they have to put on the AFOs.

➡️ Extra Depth: This feature allows the child’s AFOs to fit deeply inside the shoes. The deeper the AFOs sit inside the shoes, the more comfortable your child will feel. Shoes with extra depth ensure a secure and comfortable fit, preventing unnecessary friction or pressure points.

➡️ Adjustable Closures: Shoes with adjustable closures, such as extra long velcro straps or laces, allow for a more customized fit. This feature is especially important for accommodating AFOs while ensuring a snug and secure fit. You will notice that some of the shoes that I recommend provide extra long velcro straps that can be cut for a secure and custom fit.

Best Shoes for Children Who Wear AFOs with Wedges

Take a look at the description below each shoe to find out helpful information such as the materials that the shoes are made of and the size you should order to accommodate the AFOs. Disclosure: Some links in this post may be affiliate links and we may receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you) when you click our links and make purchases.

Keep in mind that while these shoes have worked really well for some families of children with AFOs, there is no guarantee that they will work well for your child. Not all AFOs with wedges are built the same way, and it usually takes a lot of trial and error before finding a show that works. I strongly advise you to visit your local specialized children’s shoe store to try multiple pairs on and also to support local businesses.

The Importance of Buying the Correct Shoe Size for Your Child’s AFOs

Choosing the correct type of shoes in the correct size is the only way your child will get the full benefits of the AFOs. The shoes need to be comfortable, otherwise, your child’s AFOs will spend more time in the closet than actually being worn, and you will be wasting time and money. 

One of the most common mistakes that I see families make is to buy bigger shoes in an effort to accommodate the AFOs. Please be aware that allowing your child to walk around in shoes that are too big can make your child’s AFOs virtually worthless. For this reason, I created a free resource that will help you determine what shoe size will work best for your child’s AFOs.

Housekeeping of AFOs – Final Thoughts and Recommendations

➡️ On How to Fit AFOs

  • I suggest that your child wears knee-high cotton socks under the AFOs as this can reduce the constant rubbing. 
  • If your child has an AFO for each foot, make sure that you are putting them on the correct feet. 
  • Make sure to fasten the ankle strap firmly, then the calf strap. Also, ensure that all the straps are fastened securely. Thereafter, your child’s shoe can be worn over the orthoses.

➡️ On How to Remove AFOs

Don’t forget to check your child’s skin when you remove their AFO. I say this because AFOs can cause a slightly red line around the edge of the orthosis, but this should usually disappear within half an hour approximately. Note, if your child has any pain or skin marks that do not disappear within half an hour or they develop blisters, please contact your medical professional at the earliest to make sure they can promptly evaluate the situation and advise accordingly. 

➡️ On Care Instructions for AFOs

Bear in mind that the AFOs should be cleaned regularly by wiping them with a damp cloth and soapy water. Once the AFOs are clean, they should be completely dry before being reapplied. Please refrain from using direct sunlight or a hair dryer and tumble dryer to dry your AFOs.

I always suggest parents ask their orthopedist or physical therapist about the shoes the child is wearing and how they fit. They can offer guidance on finding the most suitable styles according to the kid’s medical needs.

I almost forgot to mention that I also created a different resource that describes which socks work best with AFOs.

Get in Touch With Us for a Personalized Suggestion

Without a doubt, children’s shoe needs can vary depending on their age, activity level, and any specific foot conditions they may have. If you have any questions or need any further assistance, you can also contact us via email and we will get back to you as soon as possible. We are happy to help you find a different pair of shoes for your child’s AFOs so don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions.