Saturday, November 13, 2010

Joy's new braces

One of the last things we did before leaving for Korea was to have Joy's orthotist at Winkley make molds for new AFOs. That's an acronym for Ankle Foot Orthosis, a brace that fits over Joy's foot like a boot and extends to the top of her calf.

Joy wears AFOs on both feet and first began using them for standing shortly after she came home from Korea. (In this photo, she was18 months old.)

Cerebral Palsy interferes with the typical transmission of nerve signals between  her limbs and her brain. Her brain incorrectly perceives that her feet should be pointed most of the time (as they are in this photo, at 14 months), which interferes with bearing weight through the bottom of her feet for standing and stepping.

The AFO holds her foot at a 90 degree angle, and has a hinge at the back that allows her some range of motion when she steps.

This is Joy's third pair of AFOs. We'll need to have a new pair made about once a year until she stops growing. Now I have to figure out what to do with outgrown ones. They're custom made so we can't pass them on. But they've been part of our daily life for over a year. Like a cast of a dinosaur footprint in an ancient stream bed, the lavender pair preserves the vanished contours of the second year of Joy's life.

Of course, I'm keeping her very first pair --the orthopedically challenged child's version of the first pair of shoes, even if I don't have them bronzed. But this pair with demure lavender butterflies... Maybe I'll keep them for now. And next year, when these garishly new, jazzy stars have become old, outgrown friends, I'll reconsider. Maybe I'll thin the collection then. Or maybe I won't.


Cori said...

I smiled while reading this post. AFOs and SMOs are a part of our daily lives, too. We went from the solid (Bugs Bunny) through two sizes of the hinged (space theme) and just graduated last month to half size SMOs (trucks). They are truly his "baby shoes" and dear, dear friends to our whole family.

I'm in the same quandary as you. I can't donate them and feel so attached to them that throwing them away or dumping them in a closet seems so anticlimactic, but for now, mine are all staying together too. I might just hold on to them and let Seth decide someday.

Corrie said...


Boy does this bring back memories! I just got rid of some of GiGi's AFO's - I gave them back to the Shrine Hospital where we have them made - there are some parts that can be reused! However it is important to keep at least one pair as a reminder of how far we have come! It also tells me that she is growing - as they keep getting bigger. But I think for now we are done with AFO's! Now she is asking for shoes with heels:-) Something one can't wear with AFO"s!