Shoes & Splints: Finding the right foot ware for your AFO

disability, fashion

If you’ve ever gone shopping for shoes that can go with your AFO comfortable then like me you probably spent hours looking in store and online for the right ones. That one pair with not only comport but has style.

I don’t wear a splint now but I did for many years in primary and secondary school. I found it so hard to find a fun and stylish shoe that worked. I ended up buying shoes from the boys section. Growing up with splints going shoe shopping was the hardest because I wanted a stylish girly shoe like all the other girls at my school. I even had people come up to me and ask at break and lunch “ Is that a boys shoe” . Boys even came up to me and said “ we’re matching why is a girl wearing guys shoes? ‘. So I was bullied for a while for having to wear a splint. I wouldn’t wear a skirt at school even when the weather was so lovely and warm because I wanted to hide my splint from others. I just didn’t want those stupid, hurtful upsetting comments said to me again and again every day. Some kids didn’t to be friends with me because I wore a splint.

So I thought I would share with you some tips and tricks to help your shoe shopping for your AFO be less hassle and you won’t spend hours/ days looking for that right pair!

What is an AFO Splint?

An AFO is an ankle and foot orthotic that is prescribed to you by a orthodontist . AFO are commonly warn by people with a disability called cerebral palsy.

A fitted AFO splint is a plastic splints which are made from a cast of your foot and leg. When getting the cast done I remember feeling like I was becoming a mummy for Halloween. Splints are made to keep feet and ankles in a good position for when you walking and standing. Depending on your situation you may have one splint on one leg or splints on both your legs. As well as this your splint may have a joint or hinge at the ankle or it may be fixed this is depending on your movement.

Types of splints

Their are many different types of splints and even hand splints. Here are a few different types available:

  • Knee Ankle Foot Orthotic- this type of splint finishes just above the ankle it is also known as a KAFO splint.
  • Hinged Splint- this type of splint allows people with more range of movement to still have support and keep at least 90 degrees.
  • Fixed Splint- this type of splint holds the ankle and foot at a particular angle most commonly at 90 degrees

Getting the shoes to fit

When going shopping and trying to find shoes that would still fit my splint but also be comfortable I would have to up about 3 shoe sizes. If I managed to squeeze my splint into shoes that weren’t a great fit this would case rubbing and became very sore and painful. Another thing with wearing by having a larger shoe to fit the width of my AFO I needed to aware I could trip even more easily when walking because of the added length. I personally had to wear a splint just on my right leg so would use an insole in the other shoe so I wouldn’t have to find shoes with different sizes for each of my foot. By having insoles in the other shoe I was able to balance better when walking.

Getting the right kind of shoes

  • As much as I hated it I would dread having to shop in the boy shoe section I found boys shoes worked with my split as they were wider and more sturdy. I remember passing the girls shoe section just wishing I could wear girly shoes.
  • I found wider shoes a lot more comfy to wear with my splint. This helped to decrease rubbing and irritation when walking.
  • I found trainer type shoe style worked best for me. I don’t know about you but we weren’t allowed to wear trainers to our school so I had to get special permission.
  • So when I went shopping for shoes I would love to look at those girly shoes with heels. Unfortunately I found shoes with a heel did not work with my splint at all so heeled shoes were out of the question as it just didn’t work.
  • I liked to find shoes if possible with a higher back to them as I felt that my splint was supported better in a shoe like this.

More Tips

  • As I only wore a splint on my right leg I found that I would have to take the insole out of my right shoe to help the AFO fit better and more be comfortable.
  • Having a splint I had to always check that the witness of the shoe was good but also remember to make sure that the shoe is not too tight on your toes. As this can cause you to walk more unevenly and you may limp and fall.
  • I did find putting my AFO in my shoe sometimes especially when your rushing for school. An OT recommended to me to use a shoe horn to help with this and it was fab!
  • I highly recommend shoes that ‘give’ as they become more comfortable each time they are worn creating good comfort throughout the day.

Where should I buy from

So when I wore an AFO I brought shoes from ASDA or Clarke’s. But recently I was talking to some friends of mine who wear splints currently and they recommend the following brands:

Nike Air Zoom Tempo NEXT% FlyEase(£169.95)

Nike flyEase- This shoe design unzip at the back to fit splints in and can require less hand function when putting them on so saving you time.

Kids’ Freshfeet™ Adaptive High Top Trainers (£15.00-£19.00)

M&S adaptive shoe range- Their collection is for school shoes and trainers. To make putting on shoes easier their shoes are designed with a zip and laces. This is done to make it easier for those who have reduced motor function or need more adjustable shoes.

Women’s Leopard Billy Gore Lows (£50.61)

Billy Footwear- These shoes unzip to completely open the shoe helping you to fit your splint into the shoe.

Finding shoes to fit with your AFO that is comfy and stylish can be hard but I hope my advice helped! Growing up I always wanted to create my own shoes that were both comfy, stylish and inclusive so you never know what the future will bring, I would also love to model for fashion brands such as Nike.

I hope to do more blog content that is all fashion for example inclusive fashion posts and petite fashion. As I know a lot of you would agree we maybe disabled but we still love fashion and want to look stylish regardless of our disability!

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