Best Shoes for Children Who Wear KAFOs – Extra Deep to Accommodate the Hinges

Is your child required to wear a Knee-Ankle-Foot-Orthosis (KAFO) and you are having a hard time finding shoes that fit? KAFOs provide crucial support for children with various mobility challenges, but without the proper shoes, the benefits of these orthotic devices may be compromised. In light of my shoe fitting experience, I have put together a selection of the best shoes for children who wear KAFOs as well as some key information that will enable you to make more informed decisions regarding your child’s footwear and foot health.

Did you know that fitting your child’s KAFOs in the wrong pair of shoes can make your child’s orthosis virtually worthless? Don’t underestimate the importance of properly fitted shoes.

That being said, I am not here to restrict the type of shoes your child should wear with his/her KAFOs. I understand how important it is for children to be able to wear shoes that they like, but at the same time, I feel I have a responsibility to tell you if a shoe is doing more damage than good. You are investing money and time in a KAFO so you might as well get the full benefits that the KAFOs have to offer.

Physical and occupational therapists refer families to the shoe store where I work to be fitted for shoes and orthotics. We get a lot of families who bring their KAFOs with them and we need to help them find the correct type of shoe.

Pro Tip: If you’re pressed for time you can jump directly to the selection of the best shoes for KAFOs.

Defining Knee-Ankle-Foot-Orthothis (KAFO)

Usually referred to as KAFO, it is a brace that controls the movement of the knee, ankle, and foot joints. The orthotic extends from the thigh to the foot and is generally used to control instabilities in the lower limb by maintaining alignment and controlling motion.

Note there may be different reasons to use a KAFO, therefore there are different designs and each design has its own characteristics and special instructions. They are often prescribed for children with conditions such as cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, and other neuromuscular disorders.

How Do KAFOs Differ From SMOs and AFOs? – Watch Out for the Hinges

Some children are upgraded to KAFOs from AFOs. One of the biggest challenges of finding shoes for KAFOs is the hinges at the bottom makes it extremely challenging to find a shoe that stretches for it to fit in. Many families complain that they have tried several different adaptive shoe styles and none of them seem to work (even when going two full shoe sizes bigger).

4 Key Factors to Consider for Children Who Wear KAFOs

To maximize the effectiveness of KAFOs, it’s important to pair them with the appropriate shoes. To this end, the right shoes provide the necessary foundation for these orthotic devices to function optimally. The following are key factors to consider when selecting shoes for children who wear KAFOs:

1️⃣ Arch Support and Cushioning: Shoes with adequate arch support and cushioning help distribute pressure evenly across the foot. This only enhances comfort but also contributes to better alignment and stability.

2️⃣ 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.

3️⃣ Extra Depth: This feature allows the child’s KAFOs to fit deeply inside the shoes. The deeper the KAFOs 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.

4️⃣ Adjustable Closures: Shoes with adjustable closures, such as velcro straps or laces, allow for a more customized fit. This feature is especially important for accommodating KAFOs while ensuring a snug and secure fit.

Best Shoes for Children Who Wear KAFOs – Improve Stability and Alignment

Take your time to explore the options as shown below. Make sure that you click on the specific model that you like (no matter if it’s a boy’s or girl’s color) as the shoe is probably available in many different colors. 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.

Learn How to Order the Correct Size for Your Child’s KAFOs

With accurate measurements of your child’s feet and KAFO footplate, you’ll have a reliable reference point for shopping online. One of the most important features that both the shoes and KAFOs need to have is that they must fit the shape of your child’s feet perfectly. 

Quality measurements begin with expert consultation, so you should start by following the 3 steps outlined in the article below which is for AFOs, but follow the same process applicable to KAFOs.

How Big Is Too Big? – Stop Buying Overly Large Shoes!

If you find that you need to buy any of the shoes I recommend two full shoe sizes bigger than your child’s current foot size, then I strongly suggest that you don’t buy them. Allowing your child to walk around in overly large shoes will compromise your child’s stability and defeat the whole purpose of wearing braces. Would you be able to walk around comfortably and confidently in shoes that are two full shoe sizes bigger than your current foot size?

If this is the case with your child, I recommend that you start by making sure the KAFO footplate is not too big. Take a look at the images below for better visualization purposes. If you suspect the KAFO footplate might have been fitted too big, speak with your medical professional and have it trimmed at the front to remove the excess plastic, or get a different pair of KAFOs.

Housekeeping of KAFOs – Final Thoughts and Recommendations

➡️ On How to Fit KAFOs

  • I suggest that your child wears knee-high cotton socks under the KAFOs as this can reduce the constant rubbing. 
  • If your child has a KAFO for each leg, make sure that you are putting them on the correct feet. 
  • Make sure to fasten the straps firmly and ensure that all the straps are fastened securely. Thereafter, your child’s shoe can be worn over the orthoses.

➡️ On How to Remove KAFOs

Don’t forget to check your child’s skin when you remove their KAFO. I say this because KAFOs 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 KAFOs

Bear in mind that the KAFOs should be cleaned regularly by wiping them with a damp cloth and soapy water. Once the KAFOs 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 KAFOs.

We appreciate your readership! Please don’t hesitate to share this post within your community as well as your personal experiences in the comment section to help other parents gain valuable insights. Additionally, consulting with a pediatrician or a podiatrist can provide further guidance specific to your child’s specific needs. Your child’s well-being is our top priority!

I always suggest parents ask their orthotist 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.

Looking for a Personalized Recommendation? – Contact Us

If you have any questions or need a more personalized recommendation, you can also contact us via email and we will get back to you as soon as possible. I am happy to help you find a different pair of shoes for your child so don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions.