Y. and I have had a big day driving hither and yon to get her set with her new AFO's. For those of you who are familiar with this particular term, you can move along because this will be old hat. But I also know that I have many readers who do not live in the assistive devices world, and it's always good to learn something new. It is also a bit self-serving in that at some point those of you who know us will see Y. wearing her new AFO's and it will perhaps save us from answering repeated questions. (Not that I mind answering questions, particularly when my children are not present, but I will admit the same question over and over does sometimes grow old.)
AFO stands for Ankle Foot Orthosis, or foot and ankle brace. Here is what a pair looks like.
These are the pair which were made for Y. and which we picked up this morning.... bright and early at 8 am. ("You know I'm not a morning person," Y. reminded me.) They seem to fit pretty well, though they are not making her happy. It turned out to be great accidental timing in that this afternoon Y. already had a physical therapy appointment on the calendar. I was thrilled to be able to bring in the AFO's, new knee socks, new sneakers (because these things do not fit in all shoes, and I'm not entirely sure what we will do for dress shoes), and let the PT help get things sorted out.
These particular AFO's are adjustable in that they can either have a hinge at the ankle or it can be fixed to be rigid. This is also something the PT was able to adjust and make sure it was correct. What they do is to help hold Y.'s legs at the proper angle while also providing a little more support than she has standing alone. The therapist was pretty happy with what she was seeing when Y. walked with them. Y. was not terribly happy, but they are not the most comfortable of contraptions. We will slowly work into her wearing them most of the day, adding an hour each day until we are there.
What the people who know about these things are hoping is that the AFO's will help train and build up the appropriate muscles so that eventually Y. will not need to wear them at all. In the meantime, we will try to make the process as palatable as we can for Y.
So there you go... you now all know about as much as I do with the new world we have entered.