Find Out If Your Child’s AFOs Are Too Long – This Method Works for AFOs with Full Footplates
Has your child been prescribed AFOs and you are having the hardest time finding shoes that fit? Do you feel like you need to get shoes that are way too big to accommodate the AFOs? If you must buy shoes that are bigger than a full shoe size and a half of your child’s current foot size then I suggest looking for a different shoe or making sure that the AFO footplate is not too big. I always emphasize to families that if the AFOs are fitted in shoes that are too big, they are defeating one of the main purposes of wearing AFOs which is to improve stability.
You may have already noticed that AFOs are sometimes fitted too long to begin with. This might be because the medical professional is trying to leave some additional growing room so the child can wear the AFOs longer. The issue is that a certain amount of growing room is okay, but if the AFO footplate is fitted too long, then it will be impossible to find shoes that fit.
I work in a children’s shoe store where we get a lot of families who bring their AFOs with them and we need to help them find the correct type of shoe. You want your child to be able to move in the AFO comfortably, so it’s important that the AFOs are fitted correctly and inside the correct pair of shoes.
While it is possible to buy AFOs off-the-shelf, in most cases children receive custom braces. I strongly suggest that you speak with your medical professional before buying AFOs off-the-shelf.
How to Check If Your Child’s AFO Footplate Is Too Long?
Keep in mind that this method works for children who wear AFOs that have a footplate that extends over the toes.
Have your child stand on the AFOs and check how much space there is between your child’s longest toe and the end of the AFO footplate. Make sure that your child is standing straight and the heels are all the way back and sit well in the heel cup against the AFOs. You should also make sure that your child is not curling his or her toes.
There should be 0.9 centimeters or 3/8 inches of space between your child’s longest toe and the end of the AFO footplate to allow the correct amount of growing room. If the AFO footplate is bigger than 0.9 centimeters or 3/8 inches then you will end up having to buy overly large shoes that will compromise your child’s stability.
If you are unsure whether your child’s AFOs are too big, too small, or fit just right, you can send me an image such as the one above and I will be able to figure this out for you. Once you have the image/s ready you can send them to:
Examples of AFOs that Were Fitted Too Long
What Can You Do If the AFO Footplate Is Too Long?
In this case I suggest taking the AFO to your medical professional and have it trimmed. There is no way around this.
How Long Should Your Child’s AFOs Last?
This depends on each child’s growth rate, but AFOs should last approximately anywhere from 9 to 12 months. Make sure to examine your child’s skin regularly. If the skin is sore or irritated remove the AFO(s) and contact your medical professional.
Please consider that it is not unusual for the AFO to feel uncomfortable to begin with and therefore, we suggest your child break it in slowly.
What Shoes Work Best for Children Who Wear AFOs?
I have created several resources over the years for families of children who wear AFOs, but the one that families found the most helpful is one that describes the best sneakers for AFOs.
Remember that every child’s situation is unique, but you are not alone in this journey. A great way to ease the stress of your situation is to connect with other families and also feel free to ask your questions in the comments section.