Choosing a Paediatric AFO brace for kids (Ankle Foot Orthotics) and learning how to use it
A paediatric AFO brace, which is useful for treating many conditions related to the foot and ankle, allows children to find stability in walking and freedom of movement appropriate for their age, considering their development and growth.
How a paediatric AFO works
Like the adult model, an AFO for children is a smaller device that attaches to the shoe and surrounds your child’s lower limb to help carry weight or correct their posture.
Paediatric AFOs as an answer to medical problems
Many situations may require your child to have an AFO. A paediatric ankle foot orthotic (AFO) must be prescribed by a specialist and is most often used along with one or more other treatments, such as physical therapy, surgery, or medication.
In less severe cases, a paediatric AFO can support healing a foot injury. In the most serious situations, the orthotic may be prescribed for an indefinite period. Paediatric AFOs are particularly used to treat conditions such as:
- Pronation or supination of the foot
- Poor alignment of the foot or ankle
- Metatarsus adductus
- Plasticity of the legs
- Hip dysplasia
- Tibial torsion
The functions of a Paediatric AFO
Per a specialist’s recommendation, your child may need to wear a paediatric AFO. Once attached to their leg, this device will allow them to correct the posture of their foot or remove a source of tension when walking.
Without the orthotic, there is a higher chance that your child will sway while walking to try to correct the condition present naturally. This will increase the risk of falls, secondary deformation, and, as a result, injury due to the imbalances caused.
As such, paediatric AFOs serve both to correct improper positioning of the lower limbs and to ensure greater stability for its wearer. These devices must always be adjusted to fit your child in order to be effective.
Choosing the paediatric AFO that is right for my child
Before choosing the most suitable paediatric AFO, you must first get instructions by consulting a doctor. A medical professional is the best person to determine whether your child will benefit from such a device.
If you receive such a diagnosis, you will then go to an orthotist, who will study your child’s condition. Based on a list of criteria, they will assess whether your child can use a standard paediatric AFO or whether creating a custom model is needed for positive results.
If a custom-made model is prescribed, your child’s foot and ankle will be moulded to create their future AFO. A fitting and readjustments will follow to ensure the device’s effectiveness and your child’s comfort.
Should an AFO brace for kids be worn every day?
Now that you know how to choose the right paediatric AFO for your child, there is another important question to consider: how to make them wear the device every day? It can, in fact, be tricky to have them wear a device every day for several hours, especially young children.
It is therefore essential to explain to your child why they must wear this device, even if they are very young and have a hard time understanding. You must also teach them how to put the orthotic on their leg on their own, as this will give them responsibility for their own comfort and the results of their progress.
Finally, because style matters a lot at this age when your little one is developing their identity, you can personalize the paediatric AFO with different colours or patterns. Heeding this tip will help you get them to wear it on a daily basis, with the goal being your child’s comfort while wearing it.
Socks suitable for a paediatric AFO brace
To be comfortable wearing their paediatric AFO brace, your child must have socks that fit with the device. As it is most common for them to be custom-made, those few centimetres between the device and your child’s skin can make a difference in the AFO’s effectiveness.
This is why it is recommendable to wear thin socks, without seams if possible, to not create discomfort. It is important for them to reach at least as high as the AFO brace so that the device’s straps and plastic do not rub against your child’s skin.
Shoes designed for paediatric AFO braces
Today, you will find companies that specialize in making shoes specifically for wearing AFOs. Nevertheless, these are relatively expensive compared to conventional models. However, if you have a good paediatric AFO model, you can let your child wear their favourite pair of sneakers by following a few rules:
- Select a larger size to have space for the AFO
- Similarly, choose wide shoes
- Go for pairs with straps, as they will fit better
- Try a new pair with the AFO before buying to make sure they will be comfortable with the brace for your child.
How to get used to wearing a paediatric AFO brace every day
As soon as your child has paediatric braces made to measure and personalized for their needs, they will have to learn how the device works and how to wear it. Once they have clothes that are suitable for wearing the AFO, have them wear it progressively more, and you will increase the likelihood that they will wear it regularly.
To do so, it is easiest to make them wear the device a few hours each day at different key times so that they develop routines that make sense to them. Then, you can gradually increase the length of time and frequency with which your child will wear it. This way, they will naturally get used to wearing it and will feel the positive difference it makes.
Where to get a paediatric AFO brace designed for your child
Choosing the best paediatric AFO brace is imperative because the device they wear will make their daily life mobile and dynamic, and it will offer the freedom to get around as much as other children. This is what TurboMed had in mind when designing their paediatric AFO braces.
TurboMed specializes in designing AFO braces for both adults and children. Their orthotics have undergone specific tests to combine resistance and flexibility in order to offer users complete mobility both in their daily life as well as in their sporting practice.
With their AFO Xtern braces, TurboMed offers orthotics that can fit any type of shoe with their external fastening system. Since it’s easy to put on, your child can easily wear their orthotics in all situations to regain mobility on a daily basis, in addition to taking advantage of the spring system that converts movements into energy to guarantee lightness and performance.