Last week I took Brennen to get fitted for his AFOs. I was a little nervous about the appointment because I wasn’t sure how Brennen would react. However, the appointment went great! I am so thankful that we switched to the orthotist that Brennen’s neurologist recommended. It made a world of difference!
The new location we went to was way more kid friendly than the previous place we had visited. This location had a very large waiting room full of toys and a TV that was playing Madagascar. Just hanging out in the waiting room instantly put Brennen at ease. Even the individual patient rooms were kid friendly! They were painted in vibrant colors and each one had a TV, also playing Madagascar.
But by far, the best thing about the appointment was Brennen’s new orthotist. He was amazing with Brennen. He introduced himself to Brennen, engaged Brennen in conversation and explained everything to Brennen in terms that he could understand. Brennen was comfortable with him right from the start!
Surprisingly, upon examining Brennen’s feet and legs, the orthotist immediately recognized that Brennen was a toe walker (without looking at his chart or seeing him toe walk). The orthotist pointed out that the forefront of Brennen’s feet are wider than normal due to the pressure of the toe walking and his heels are more narrow than other kids his age. This was something that we had never noticed. The orthotist also called attention to Brennen’s body builder sized calf muscles, which we were already aware of.
After the examination, the orthotist showed us a sample AFO and demonstrated how it would prevent Brennen from toe walking. The goal of the AFO is to retrain Brennen’s brain so that it knows to walk heel to toe, instead of toe to toe.
Next the orthotist had to cast Brennen’s legs to make a mold so that the AFO could be custom shaped just for him. I wish I could have taken some pictures to show you the process, but Brennen wanted to sit on my lap while it was being done. First the orthotist put a long sock on each of Brennen’s legs. Then he wrapped wet bandages around Brennen’s legs from the knee to the tips of his toes. After the bandages hardened the casts were cut off. The last part was the fun part, Brennen got to custom design his AFO by picking from a wide variety of colors and patterns. Brennen selected Scooby Doo as the pattern, blue straps and blue pads.
We should be able to pick up the AFOs (or Brennen’s Scooby’s as we have started to call them) in about 2-3 weeks. In the meantime, I have been searching for special AFO socks for Brennen to wear. They are a tad expensive, $8-$12 a pair, but if they make Brennen more comfortable they will be worth it. Brennen will also have to get new shoes once he gets his AFOs as his old shoes are not roomy enough to accommodate the AFOs.