Will my child always have to wear an AFO?
If your child has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy or a neurological condition, it is likely they have been recommended or prescribed an Ankle Foot Orthosis (AFO). A lower-limb brace that helps children walk with more control and stability. To understand AFOs better and how they are developing, check out our last blog, ‘Ankle Foot Orthoses (AFOs): How are they changing?’.
As a parent, it’s understandable to naturally be worried about your little one if they have been diagnosed with a neurological condition or cerebral palsy, as it can make you question what their future may look like. But AFOs are a great way to let your child have true freedom. It offers more independence, allows them to take part in day-to-day activities, and helps them keep up with their friends and other children.
You may also be questioning how long your child will need to wear an AFO for. Ultimately, everyone’s circumstance is different, which is why it all depends on the individual assessment and ongoing evaluation that will determine the appropriate duration your child will need to wear the AFO.
It is helpful, however, to have a general idea or ballpark on durations:
When do children normally get prescribed AFOs?
It is normally common for AFOs to be used by children with neurological conditions and cerebral palsy from the age of two to help them with their walking.
How long should children be wearing their AFO daily?
Ideally, they’re to be worn throughout the day when they’re walking around. However, it can sometimes be difficult as they will often remove it when they’re home.
How many AFOs can a child go through?
At 3D Ortho, we have found that an AFO will usually last out two pairs of shoes as the child grows, working out at a replacement every 6 to 12 months depending on the rate they grow. However, the younger they are, we tend to find that they will need the AFO replacing more often.
How can you ensure they will be okay without the AFO?
As much as it’s important for your child to wear the AFO daily, it’s also important for them to take some time out to allow the foot and ankle joints to move and remain flexible. When it’s recommended by their Physiotherapist or Orthotist, stretching and exercising without an AFO is important to maintain joint range and mobility.
This will allow them to transition from AFOs in a safer way to help develop their strength and control in order to walk independently. Once your child has stopped using their AFO, it’s also important to monitor their progress long-term and book in follow-ups with their orthotist and physiotherapist to ensure everything is okay.
When do children stop wearing AFOs?
Children normally wear AFOs until the age of 10-12 years old. By this time, they are starting senior school and tend to discard the AFO if it’s not being useful to them.
As stated previously, it’s important to remember that every child is different and nobody’s circumstances are the same. That’s why it’s vital that they have an individual assessment and ongoing evaluation to determine how long they will need to use their AFO, as well as follow-up appointments to observe progress.
If you think your child needs an AFO, has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy or a neurological condition, or you need some AFO advice, speak to one of our friendly team members by filling in the contact form.