"What's wrong with his legs?" - I feel like kids ask this question more than any question about Lochlan's disability so I thought I'd answer.
When people look at Lochlan, they will see a different gate when he moves and kids especially get curious why he walks differently. I watch people look at his legs and see his braces which make them assume there is something wrong with his legs, but in reality, there is not a thing wrong with Lochlan's legs. His brain, however, is different than most kids developmentally. When he was born, he endured two different injuries on his brain. Because of this, the part of his brain the controls fine and gross motor skills (for example, holding a pencil and/or walking) developed differently than a typical brain. This effects his strength, flexibility and balance. As he has grown, he has used his legs differently than most because he is trying to compensate for a lack of strength in other area. Without the use of braces on his feet, he would naturally want to walk on the inside of his feet. Once he was starting to stand as a 2-year-old, he received his first pair of AFOs, or ankle foot orthotics. AFOs help give him extra stability and encourage his feet to have better form which will help him for years to come.
Depending on how fast his feet grow, Lochlan gets new AFOs about once a year and we just went in for his newest set. We use Mary Bridge for his orthotics. When we go in, he gets casted and his favorite part is that he selects colors or designs for new new braces. This pair has motorcycles on the straps and trucks and cars on the actual braces. If you know Lochy, I am sure you are not at all surprised by his selection. Compared to other medical appointments, this is one of the most anticipated visits for Loch. Plus, Mary Bridge gives us a voucher for new shoes too! The Mary Bridge Brigade works with Nordstrom to gift AFO kiddos a new pair of shoes with every set of orthotics. (Thank you Mary Bridge Brigade! Because this kid is still learning to walk, he really goes through shoes and this voucher really helps us out.)
Will Loch always wear AFOs? Probably...? He will definitely wear them until his body is done growing, but we try to take things one day at a time, or in this case, one set of AFOs at a time.
Three tips for ankle foot orthotics (AFOs)
1. Use knee high socks. If your child is like mine, he has thin calves so you will
want to find socks that are tight so they stay up. My all time favorite socks are JuDanzy socks. I buy them off amazon and they stay up. When the twins were infants, I fell in love with JuDanzy. They are the only infant socks I have ever found to stay on little feet. They also keep the twins' pulse ox in place when they were still on oxygen.
2. Take out the pad in the bottom of the shoe. AFOs are bulky and, even with wide shoes, it can be tough to get the AFO in the shoe easily. taking out the inserted pad can be just enough to get the brace in easily.
3. Buy a show that is AFO friendly. We almost exclusively use BILLY Footwear.
They are exceptional quality, super cute and have a unique zipper that goes around the entire shoe. In fact, this is the only shoe I bought for
Lochlan and his brother who does not wear AFOs because they are so nice for little kids. They do come in adult size too so he will be able to wear them forever if he wants to.