ElizabethAnnLifestyle – AFO-Friendly Shoes and Boots
This article originally appeared on ElizabethAnnLifestyle.wordpress.com
You never truly know what people go through to buy something as simple as shoes, or boots, for children that have a disability -or an AFO brace, etc -until you have to do it yourself.
Last year, my daughter suffered a stroke and a rare infection called Endocarditis (more on that another day).
In any case, it left her needing what I have now learned is called an AFO, a leg brace for support in walking and daily life to correct the body’s movements.
My daughter’s two AFO’s have looked like this style here:
We had one specifically fitted to her foot by a wonderful prosthetic expert here in London, Ontario. He incorporated leather straps, almost like a Birkenstock sandal style, for maximum comfort and lightness on her foot.
These AFO’s work wonders, but finding footwear is another story.
My conclusion? Cheap shoes. I know that sounds crazy but, the AFO makes it so that one foot is bigger than the other. Unless, of course, they are on both feet. Fortunately, I only have my daughters left foot to worry about – but nevertheless it becomes complicated. In buying less expensive runners from Walmart for example, or even Payless, the average person can than afford to buy the two different sizes needed.
We had suggestions from many, to buy the larger size and simply take the insole from the braced foot, and place it upside down in the other, to fill the space. It seems like that is a short term solution because ultimately the shoe is larger in length as well, and leaves the brace-less foot floundering at times or slipping out completely.
We had to do some altering depending on the shoe style, we tried pairs with the curly laces, with velcro, slip ons, low runners, high tops for support, low lying laces.. the list goes on.. and so do the issues with why we couldn’t get the brace past the 90 degree turning point.
Velcro shoes seemed to be the most workable, we removed the tongue in the AFO shoe, giving more room for the hardware at the ankle, Walmart was the answer for these (see links below). We did manage to also find a slip on there, in Trolls no less!!
In terms of “stylish” or “pretty/dressy” shoes, I found ballet flats at H&M (link below) and the Gap. H&M was by far the most affordable place to find funky and stylish flats that have an elastic stretchy strap for the brace foot to be kept in the shoe. Now, the Gap was more expensive of the two so I recommend clearance since you’re buying two sizes, but if you’re in need of a good pair – it might be worth it. Their flats had an elastic that goes around the entire top of the flat, almost suctioning the foot in place.
Short boots, tall boots, cowboy boots, rain boots, duckies, they all fell flat. None of them worked, not the zippered ones, pull on, or lace up.
So, with winter around the corner, I realized I had a massive issue on my hands. I searched high and low for boots in the stores, I searched online, my mother and husband searched, I even had my husband order boots from a company called MyMayu (more on that later) — all of which were unsuccessful.
My mother even bought boots from thrift stores that were too big, and tried altering them, adding an insole here, cutting liner there.. but none of these left us with any sort of waterproof, -30 degree Celsius or colder, Canadian-winter proof boots. (Cue me, pulling a Dawson over here, crying.. thank you google images for providing me with the exact expression I was looking for.)
That is, UNTIL, I found Butler Boots
Heavenly, affordable, American made.. and, they come in fun colours. I mean.. really? No brainer.
I did my research, watched videos.. and thought wow, this just might work. They have an accordion style front, they’re 100% waterproof, come with liners that not only are suitable to -40 degree celsius weather BUT can double as slippers.. they can be used as rain boots with bare feet, OR you can literally place your child’s foot that’s already in a runner, INSIDE THE BOOT!
I kid you not (pun intended).
I purchased a pair on Amazon, because let’s face it, time was ticking until snowfall. But I also purchased a pair right off of the website as a back up -in a different size. Due to Butler launching the most updated version of the boots for the year, they were set to ship too late in the game for me, so I ended up calling to have the purchase refunded.. and banked on my Amazon buy – which by the way, were the previous year version of the boots (apparently they’d “made slight improvements” to 2018’s.)
Before calling however, I received a voicemail – from an ACTUAL woman – not a robot, letting me know that due to high demand unfortunately there would be an even further delay, and that as a courtesy, they were offering a free.. you heard me.. FREE, 2nd pair of boots to everyone waiting.
Despite this extremely tempting offer, I called Butler back and sadly told them I could not take advantage because snow was expected within (dun dun dunn) 1.5 weeks. The woman I spoke to was charming. She had wonderful customer service skills and completed my refund without issue, and I can confidently say that I will most definitely be purchasing from Butler again in future.
Two thumbs up!
Here is a video from their YouTube channel that shows exactly how the boots work, they have taller and shorter versions.. and again with the fun colours!! Perfect for kids, my daughter felt like she had super cool hot pink boots, and not something different than other kids because of her AFO.
I will note, I bought one size up from what I normally would have bought for her AFO foot, knowing they’re meant to fit shoes inside as well in warmer months.
My daughter wears a size 1 on her left AFO foot, and a 13 on her right. I ordered a size 2 in Butler Boots, but they do have a printable sizing chart! Again, amazing!
I simply added an insole underneath of her right foot to make up for the large size, and with her wearing warmer socks over the winter months anyway, it worked just fine.
They take some practise getting on with an AFO, as any shoe does.. but once we got the hang of how to hold open the wonderful accordion front while pulling on the tab at the back, it was a dream.
(They seriously remind me of moon boots! Haha.)
To visit their channel, click here: YouTube – Butler Boots
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