Virginia has been walking for about 2.5 months now. As long time readers around here know, it was a long process (relatively) to get her to truly be walking. She cruised around furniture for about 4 months. She took a few steps here and there for about 2 months. And then she spent a few weeks figuring out how to get to her feet independently and without the help of furniture. This happened to coincide with the start of summer. Her hesitation to crawl or fall on the pavement and grass outside was very influential on her speedy progression at that point. In the past 2.5 months she has been doing SO WELL. Seriously, not just her walking but her speech and general maturity has really blossomed since she truly became mobile. She has certainly gotten steadier and more confident since June, but her gait is still a bit immature. She tends to kick her feet out in front of her and turn her feet out to steady herself. Enter stage left... SMO braces (supramalleor orthotic). It is basically a thin molded plastic brace that goes under and around her foot and ends at the top of her ankle (you can see the blue brace peeking out of the top of her shoes in the photo above) . It is held in place by 2 velcro straps that keep them snug to provide the most stability for her foot and ankle, Our particular braces are made by cascade dafo (jumpstart leapfrog line). We are hopeful that this added support will help improve her gait and keep her steady as she picks up her pace ;)
photo via cascade dafo
This particular SMO is not a custom product and my Mom (a pediatric PT) happened to have a sample pair in Virginia's size. It is a good starting point for us and an easy way to determine if this style orthotic is going to be helpful for her. We were planning on starting the insurance process for custom fit SMOs in September, but we are now going to wait to see how she does in these first.
It was a bit of a challenge to find a shoe that would work with the brace without adding too much length to her foot. Luckily my Mom is a pro at this and went to 5 different shoe stores with us before we found something that worked really well. For those of you that will be doing similar shopping: be sure to look for shoes that open really wide down to the toe box and take out the insoles prior to trying them on. A shoe that comes in a wide width is also helpful in fitting the orthotic without adding additional length.
So far I don't notice much difference. It has only been a week since she started wearing them though. And no, I'm not known for my patience.
After several days of testing out the SMOs at home for a few hours at a time we ventured out for a hike at our local Audubon Society nature center. She spent the first half of the hike in the ergo begging for water out and pulling on my hair ... needless to say she got a lot of practice walking around in the SMOs and her new kicks on the second half of the hike.
Looking for info on AFOs or custom braces? Tatum at Ain't No Rollercoaster wrote a super informative post on that a few months ago http://aintnorollercoaster.com/first-day-with-ankle-foot-orthotics-afos/