How To Find A Top Notch AFO Provider in DuPage, IL
There are a handful of providers in DuPage County, IL. None of which are terrible, or they would be gone by now. But, if you want to find one suitable for your particular needs, it is time to get specific with your questions.
Do you need an AFO provider to come to you at your residence or nursing home?
Do you need a local company you can go to?
Not all companies will come out to you and it is a good idea to check in with this question before moving forward if you need this kind of help.
Also, many companies will keep you waiting for weeks and you do not have to settle for this. Time frame is important as well, when researching an AFO company in DuPage County, IL.
Also, when calling in, it is a good idea to make sure they take your insurance.
What are Hinged AFOs?
Hinged AFOs (Ankle Foot Orthosis) are orthotics/braces that go around the ankle and foot in order to control the position and movement of the ankle. These devices are used to treat conditions such as cerebral palsy, strokes leading to foot drop, idiopathic foot drop, peripheral neuropathy, polio/post-polio, trauma, multiple sclerosis, and Guillen Barre syndrome. In essence, they provide support and correct gait mechanics so a person can walk more readily.
If a physical therapist, doctor, nurse practitioner or physician assistant has recommended hinged AFOs for you or your child, you may have some questions about these devices. The following is a collection of advice based on the experience of people who have been in your position.
The advice focuses on three main topics – the AFO devices themselves, socks, and the shoes worn with them.
Hopefully, you’ll find something to help guide you on your journey.
Important Things When Considering Hinged AFOs in Dupage County, IL
Plastic or carbon AFOs are typically only meant to be worn while performing weight-bearing, or semi weight bearing activities, such as sitting, standing or walking.
Lighter colors, such as yellow or white, may lead you to feel like the AFO gets dirty faster. So, consider getting yourself, or your child AFOs with darker straps, but always let them make the final decision.
You can also allow your child to personalize the devices with stickers, stick-on jewels, and other such decorations. Anything you can do to make the AFOs more likable to your child will make using them that much easier. Etsy has great vendors who provide custom stickers, so that might be a fun option for you to consider when choosing an AFO design.
Finally, make sure you are familiar with all AFO brace problems before choosing the one for your child.
Socks Used With AFOs Matter
Some kids are fine wearing normal socks with their AFOs, but others get irritation from short or ribbed socks. The best socks are at least as tall as the hinged AFOs and have few, or no seams.
A few brands that fit this bill are SmartKnit Kids, AFOSocks.com, Jefferies Socks seamless, and Keeping Pace socks. SmartKnit Kids is a popular choice because they are great for sweat. SmartKnit AFO socks are made the same way that a caterpillar spins its cocoon, starting at the toe and circling to the top, making a seam-free, wrinkle-free sock. It fits like a second layer of skin, provides exceptional softness, and wicks perspiration.
Also, believe it or not, kids like women’s knee highs with funny faces (or other designs) on them. While most major retailers sell socks and tights that work, Kohl’s was mentioned specifically because they have a huge selection and seems to always have good discounts.
One parent commented that her son wears one pair in the morning, takes a nap, and then wears a second pair in the afternoon. So, no matter what kind of socks you go with or where you buy them, plan on buying extra pairs because you may be using multiple pairs a day.
How About Shoes and AFOs?
Let’s start with some general advice. Don’t buy shoes until you have the AFOs, so you can make sure they fit well and tight together. The shoes you or your son or daughter has already might work anyways, so you might not have to go shopping. If you do go shopping, take the hinged AFO into the store with you so that you can see how different shoes fit over the device.
Try to buy or order from somewhere you can return them in case they do not work out for whatever reason. Also, make sure the shoes are comfortable, a good rule of thumb is to buy one or two sizes up in general for some AFOs users. Remember though, this is not always the case. Its best not to guess and you can try the new shoes on at the store with the AFO applied.
Where Do You Buy Shoes?
This part does not have to be done in DuPage County, IL. It can be done online easily, but if you don’t try them on in person the online ease of purchasing the shoes might backfire on you unless you know exactly what shoes you want to purchase.
Tradition brick and mortar stores such as Target (good prices) and Famous Footwear offer some shoes that work well.
There are also online shopping options for shoes, which include Amazon and Zappos (affordable, free returns, and price matching). Lastly, if you are looking for something more specialized you might try your orthotist’s office.
Who makes shoes that work well with hinged AFOs (and what should you know about them)?
Although they are not specifically made for use with hinged AFOs, these brand name shoes work well with them. The brands named by parents include:
- New Balance (Fuel Core and XXWide styles work well, hard sole, buy extra wide and one size up, available at Target),
- Ikiki (they are super cute)
- Stride Rite (wide sandals work well)
- Billy Shoes (easy to put on, buy two sizes larger)
- Plae Mimo (all rubber, great for inside and water play, cute and comfy)
- Cat and jack (available at Target)
- OshKosh (available at Target)
- Addidas (available at Famous Footwear)
- Nike (Flyease Wide and extra-wide running shoes work well, available at Zappos).
There are also shoes that work with hinged AFOs (the base of the shoes is not as narrow as some of the name brands).
Remember to always wear your AFO inside of a shoe though as they are not made to have tread on the bottom of them and shoes are really important.
What About Wearing Shoes in The House?
Some children always wear shoes inside all year round, others are still crawling so they also keep shoes on in the house, and some go without braces and shoes in the house on most days.
The type of footwear for indoor use also varies widely. Sandals, orthopedic shoes from the orthotist’s office, Moccasins slippers, and slippers with grips on the bottom were all cited as good for inside. Perhaps, you can choose to have a special pair for inside the house so everything stays as clean as possible.
Also, a couple of brands named for indoor footwear were Plae Mimo and Stride Rite. With such a wide variety of practices, shoe types, and brands, you’ll probably just have to see what works best for your child.
What else? Keep in mind that this is a collection of personal experiences and you should always speak with your doctor and orthotist before confirming any of this as medical advice.
That being said, if you or your child needs to use hinged or non-hinged AFOs hopefully some of the information presented here will be useful to you when you’re making decisions.