How to “Hack” Cute Shoes for AFOs #1: Remove the Tongue

How to hack cute shoes for AFOsOne of the most frustrating things about having a child who wears AFOs is how hard it is to find shoes to fit. My daughter started wearing AFOs at 3 months old. For the first year, she simply did not wear shoes. However, when she started pulling to stand I knew I needed to tackle the scary beast of shopping for shoes.

Shoe shopping is FRUSTRATING when your child has AFOs

My first shoe shopping adventure lasted well over a week, full of stress and yes, I will admit, tears. I kept thinking, it should not be this difficult to find shoes! Eventually, I found a single pair of (expensive) shoes that fit over her AFOs at Stride Rite. That was it – she got one pair. I didn’t have the energy to keep shopping for variety.

The next time she got new braces I went directly to Stride Rite, but they had nothing. Nothing! After trying on shoe after shoe at store after store, I ordered 12 pairs of extra wide toddler shoes off Zappos. Two pairs kind of worked, so we kept them. Luckily, Zappos makes it easy to return shoes that don’t fit.

I could go on and on. Eventually a friend found that a particular pair of New Balance sneakers with laces worked really well on her daughter, so they became my shoe of choice for Lily. The only problem … they are not cute. They are gray. And they are fine. But they are boring. Sigh.

A snip here and a pulled out insole there and … voila! Cute shoes over AFOs. 

This week my daughter is on spring break, and we have been having a fun time together – going to the park, shopping, running errands, etc. On a shopping trip to Target, one of our tasks was to find shoes for my son. While we were in the aisle, Lily saw shoes with all her favorite characters – Hello Kitty, Minnie Mouse, Doc McStuffins! She REALLY wanted a pair of special shoes.

We tried on a bunch, and most were a definite no. However, a particular pair of Doc McStuffins sneakers had a lot of promise. The only problem was that the top piece of velcro barely closed over the AFO. To me, it looked like the problem was the big thick tongue. While a nice squishy tongue makes shoes comfortable for people who only need to fit feet in their shoes, people with AFOs get no benefit. So… I took it out… and it worked!

Step by Step Guide to Removing Tongue from Shoe

Because the AFO provides all the support the foot needs, the insole is not necessary. Removing it gives needed room to the AFO.

Hacking cute shoes for over AFOs - Remove the insole

Here are the shoes before I removed the tongue. See how the top velcro strap doesn’t even make it mid-way across the shoe?

Hacking Cute Shoes for AFOs - Velcro too short

Undo the velcro straps and pull them out of the loops.

Hacking cute shoes for over AFOs - undo the velcro straps

Find the threads holding the tongue to the shoe, and cut them to remove the tongue. You can use a seam ripper or scissors (open the scissors wide and use one of the blades like a knife sawing the threads until they break free).

Hacking cute shoes for over AFOs - find and cut threads attaching tongue to shoe

Make sure you remove the entire tongue along with all threads. You do NOT want to leave a rough area inside the shoe that could rub on your child’s foot.

Hacking cute shoes for over AFOs - remove the entire tongue from the shoe

See how the inside of the shoe is very smooth? This is what you want to see.

Hacking cute shoes for over AFOs - after tongue removed from shoe

Here they are all finished! The velcro now comes all the way across and the shoes fit as designed.

Hacking cute shoes for over AFOs - before and after

What other hacks have you used to fit shoes over AFOs?

Stay tuned for another shoe “hack” coming soon!

-Amy

99 comments:

  1. My daughter is 3 and wears AFOs. We usually do New Balance wide or extra wide shoes with the insoles removed, and either I sew velcro extensions or we just buy lace-ups. For dress shoes, I buy extra wide mary janes from Stride Rite and add extensions to the velcro. My dream is for someone to invent a perforated AFO that works with some sort of water shoe so she can wear them to the splash pad.

    1. Love the idea of adding extensions to the velcro. I tried replacing the velcro straps last year on a pair of sneakers, but found I needed stronger vinyl and velcro (they wore out quickly). Also found that replacing is really hard to do due to the thickness of the shoes (was hard to get a needle through). What do you use for your extensions?

      Also – want to mention – I asked my daughter’s orthotist this past summer about water / splash pads. She said Lily could wear her AFOs with water shoes (took me a bit but I found a boys pair that worked over them) to play in the water – just had to take them off immediately afterwards to let her feet dry out and put on dry socks. Nothing on her AFOs absorbs water (this surprised me), but I found that they do need a towel dry followed by a few minutes to air dry since the foam feels a bit moist after). It’s not perfect, but it allowed her participate in water day at school. Different AFOs may be made differently … but wanted to share this since the orthotist’s answer surprised me.

      1. OMG that tongue tip was a life saver!! I always took out the sole, but never thought about the tongue. I am 42 and have been wearing an AFO brace since I was 13… and not a cutesy small one… the big honker with the metal on the sides… Shoe shopping is nothing but a nightmare for me, so trust me when I say, I feel your pain… I have to buy two pairs of shoes one in a 8.5 and one in a 7, which is very pricey… Sketchers, Nike, NB… I have tried them all… Because wearing an AFO brace tends to tear at the toes, they rip out after only a couple months, so finding sewed toes is important… Over the years I have found several tips that may help. I always first put on a nylon knee sock, this prevents chafing from the brace, then I wear a ankle sock over that, then once I have the brace on I wear another sock over the brace and foot. It helps the brace stay in place better so that you don’t wind up with blisters… I am a very active person and work on my feet a lot and do a lot of walking… and my shoes just can not keep up… I gave up long ago on style… I wear sneakers with everything… even though it is not stylish… I made it my style… I am in the market for another pair and I came across this… That ripping the tongue out is going to save me from having to buy two pairs… With no tongue I will have more room and will be able to use an 8!! Thank you!

      2. My daughter never wore her afos on the beach or anything, she gets too hot and although she falls a lot sand doesn’t hurt as bad :) so I bought her the phibian water shoes from stride rite to wear without afos but gave her support and made her more comfortable running around and they were great!

    2. I am 13, and I have worn AFOs practically all of my life. I used to wear crocs, and they just slide in there. Also, for the winter, I wear boots. They are easy to get in, too.

    3. The AFO’s are plastic and really don’t need perforations to be in the water. Be sure to wear socks with AFO’s and just use an old pair of shoes to play in the water. The AFO’s need to dry before normal use. Just wipe out excess water and let air dry before use.

  2. Payless carries a brand called Smart Fit and the wide versions go right over my daughter’s AFOs without having to do anything….best of all, they are not too expensive! She is a teen now and I am still buying the Smart Fit shoes for her….

  3. I have had moderate luck at Shopko, and with the latest pair of AFO’s, we ordered the shoes built to go over them for my son. Basic shoe, work great but definitely not stylish and pretty expensive if insurance had not covered them. I am so excited to try removing the tongue of the shoe, though! Thanks for the brilliant idea!

  4. PLAE shoes (www.goplae.com) work perfect for AFOs and have a Mary Jane option and tons of colors in each style. You buy the shoes then buy tabs in a larger size. We LOVE them because they are stylish and we don’t have to wear just tennis shoes. Hatchbacks were too heavy and bulky for my daughter who is very petite and with dresses I was sick of tennis shoes. PLAE shoes is all we buy now

    1. Hi, I just happened to purchase 2 pairs of shoes from GoPlae, a size 10 and size 11, the shoes she receives from ortho are 9 1/2. Neither pair were wide enough. These were recommended to me as well. I purchased the Tye ones which are the ones the salesperson also recommended for braces. I am so frustrated. I was so looking forward to pretty cute girl shoes. Don’t even know where to start now.

  5. Or Forget wasting all that time and get a pair of Go Plae shoes. No sizing up and you can customize the shoes with super cute straps. Just buy larger straps. My son has CP and AFO’s and sizing up was not an option. He spent more time flat on his face than walking. I got some go places and they have been game changers. We will never get another brand of shoes ever.

    1. Chauntelle, no sizing up at all? My son has right hemiplegia. He wears an AFO on his right leg and a SMO on his left leg and the shoes they gave us are ridiculously clunky; very wide, deep and oversized to fit the braces. I feel as though it makes his walking mechanics worse.

      1. The great thing about Plae shoes are you can order different sizes to fit your kiddo if they only wear an AFO on one foot. My son has them on both but they fit great over his and are not huge on him. They are super durable as well. He loves picking out new tabs. I love their customer service as well they are super helpful with any questions or fit problems you may have.

  6. My daughter is 13 and finding shoes that fit over her AFOs and ones that look fashionable is becoming harder and harder. Any suggestions are appreciated!

    1. My Daughter is twelve.and we have had luck with LLbean extra wide shoes. They have cute Mary Janes that have a rubber bottom that is as close to stylish as we can get. Next winter we are going to try a boot that you can buy at simplybe.com. They come in eee with a wide calf.

    2. Linda my daughter wears sketchers, reds, and we are trying a new to us shoe called Saucony they seem to be working out for us they do come in wide width so that helps alot. Hope this helps.

    3. My daughter is 15 and has worn them her entire life. Now that she’s wearing adult sizes, we’ve had good luck with DC and Converse leather high tops! Both come in lots of fun colors!

  7. Try Amazon for New Balance! They’re always having sales and have TONS of cute girls New Balance in extra wide!!

    1. I LOVE New Balance for making toddler sizes in extra wide. :) They make a pair of lace up toddler sneakers which was the only thing we could find to fit my daughter’s AFOs for a while.

  8. T
    hat is an awful lot of work. There are companies that make shoes to fit over orthotics. My daughter has been wearing Answer 2 for years. They were actually sold by the place that made her orthotics.

    1. It does take a little bit of work, but I personally think it’s worth it if a child finds a pair of shoes he or she really likes. With all due respect, I find Answer 2 shoes to be rather plain and boring. The prices are a bit high, too. The cheesy character shoes can mean the world to little ones and can be a great motivator for them as well. All the best.

      1. My son is 14 and has been in AFOs now for over a year. It took that long to get someone to take a serious look at his feet and listen to me that there was definitely a problem! Low and behold we finally got a referral to Shriner’s. He had two major surgeries and hopefully won’t need to go through that again anytime soon! He’s been a trooper and wears his AFOS faithfully, 24 hours a day! He said he wears them so well because he never wants to go through surgery again! Keeping Pace shoes have been the shoes Shriners has provided to us thus far; however, they are expensive and we will need to buy his nexts ones, which he needs now. Given his age and required size, 9 in adults, there really hasn’t been anything too great out there that we have found. When we were looking for snow boots this last winter we were unsuccessful. Any suggestions on large size AFO friendly shoes? Also the AFOs, and a 14 year old boy, both are pretty hard on shoes to begin with so that is a whole other challenge! : /

        1. Sorry for taking so long to respond. I will look around to see what I can find re: large size shoes. I have heard that for older kids in adult sizes that skater shoes tend to be wider set and work really well with AFOs. Also, I recently wrote a post about using Shoe Goo to help extend the life of shoes. My daughter will wear holes through the toes of her shoes and sometimes will do that in a month’s time! I’ve started using this, which is used by skateboarders to protect and extend the life of their shoes. http://www.abilityhacker.com/how-to-hack-cute-shoes-for-afos-a-coat-of-armor-to-extend-shoe-life/

    1. I agree! We just got AFO’s a few months ago for my 15 month old and it was so heart breaking. We are currently in XW New Balance but they are still hard to velcro shut. The Plae shoes aren’t in small enough sizes for him. Will definitely try this hack next!

  9. It definitely is easier to buy shoes made for orthotics, but the downside is they can be quite expensive. & also some brands only have simple black, white or gray shoes.

    My daughter is 3 with afos. We have had luck with the brand Op at Walmart & they are colorful! We’ve also had luck the with the skater brands DC & Osiris.

  10. Quilter here. Get a seam ripper ($1-5 at almost any store. My grocery store even sells them!) and you can do this in less than 5 minutes. Ripping the toung out if a shoe is nothing, time or work wise. I’m really surprised so many people think that this is hard to do. Great hack!

    1. It WAS much easier than I expected too! I thought it would take all morning, and then realized I was done rather quickly – just slowed down by taking pictures of all the steps. :) Thank you!

  11. Nike runs wide enough for AFOs to fit as do most name brand tennis shoe, but you have to pull the insole out to make sure you have the right size. I would also recommend that you go up a size to ensure there is enough room for a comfortable fit. The con is that they are more expensive, but you have a lot more options and they last longer. T daughter wore AFOs from about 9months to 3 years and when we were done with her shoes, we could put the insoles back in and give them away.

  12. We use those same doc mcstuffins shoes! Also, target just got some darker pink Frozen shoes that are even more roomier and cute :) for a different look Wide DC SHOES with Velcro are always cute and workable!

    1. Frozen shoes would be a huge hit over here with Lily! Thank you for letting me know. :) I might buy a pair for when these wear out (she is very hard on shoes due to still crawling some places).

  13. Converse have been our go to’s my son is 10 now and has been hkafo’s afo’s and kafo’s since he was 6 months. Canvas on the converse stretches super easy. Throw some potatoes in the toe part soak in water, then dry with potatoes still in. Ta-da! Plus you can design your own pair online at their website. LOVE THEM!

  14. This hack is so cute!!! Glad you are finding some solution for all the cute girl shoes. My son is now 11 and he has been wearing Tony Hawk ‘skater-style’ shoes from Kohl’s for 3 years. They are wide enough for his SMO’s to fit comfortably and the style is cute. When he was younger and wore AFO’s he was able to wear the Crocs that had the stretchy material at the opening (Micah sandal).

  15. Tsukihoshi shoes are cute and fit great over AFO’s they are lightweight and easy to put on. The Wheel style and Mary Jane style are perfect!

  16. Nike Free 5.0 work great over AFO’s. My has a an extra wide foot on top of the AFO’s and they fit great! We didn’t even have to buy a size up! They have boys and girls :-)

  17. Those specialty sites are great, but I just don’t have the money! I wear KAFOs (after years in AFOs), and formerly only men’s shoes were wide enough :( Thankfully, skater shoes are popular now and are great for me! They have wide, flat bottoms, and no confining ankle parts! Vans, DC shoes, and sometimes Sketchers work for me. I get plain ones and decorate them with embroidery patches from my local craft store, just stick them on with fabric glue. Fabric paints are great too.

  18. This is genius! Thank you! Up to now we’ve been using Crocs, and cramming her foot and AFO into them is no easy feat.

  19. We have been loving Plae shoes but this hack is AWESOME!! We have had the sad trip to Target with the glittery character shoes taunting her from the shelf so this is a brilliant idea in my book.

  20. My daughter wears RGOs, I ordered her a pair of Converse All-Stars EZ Slip-on and they are amazing! The sides velcro so that the whole back of the shoe folds down and the foot just slides right in! And they are cute pink and purple. I found them on sale on the converse site and only paid like $14!

  21. my daughter is now 6 years old she has been wearing afo’s since she was 1year. she’s wearing Nike I tear out the insert and buy 1-2 sizes bigger high tops. she don’t like it to much her feet look big but she has gotten use to it. I went threw many shoes to find a good fit.

  22. I don’t let my daughter’s DAFO’s stop me from buying cute shoes my other daughters wear. My daughter wears converse lace up’s just fine. We of course by the size that fits the braces and take out the insert and they fit fine!!!

  23. I love canvas shoes because they are so much less bulky and are easy to modify. Cascade® has an awesome Socks and Shoes pdf you can download here http://cascadedafo.com/library/documents/socks-shoes-brochure that describes how to open up the toe box area of many canvas/ “skater” style of shoes to greatly increase the depth to accommodate braces. That was the only hack I knew of until I saw this tongue one. My seam ripper will get to do double duty now: )

  24. My husband actually is the fellow who makes the AFO’s. Maybe they should be nice and include a link to this with the AFOs. :)

  25. If you wear AFOs you can try Memo shoes http://www.memo-shoes.com/ . They are all flat inside. Many models are ankle-high and all equiiped with assymetric thermoplastic stiff heel counter. This shoes were developed special for children who need to wear AFOs.

  26. Many thanks for these hacks!! I’m relatively new to all of this, and I have enjoyed your hacks as well as the helpful comments!!

  27. Great and very useful post. I am 42 and have a chronic foot drop but have similar issues. Wondering what brand of AFO your daughter wears? Mine is an Allard that I got after the horrible one from the hospital tore my leg up. Also, the main brace on my first one was along the calf and the Allard is over the shin. As long as I have a shoe with a wider toe box like Keen, or J-41 I don’t really need a bigger shoe and the brace fits well. The only problem is I have to wear it with shoes and am looking for one I can wear without shoes, in the house. Does your daughter need shoes with her brace? My brace is a nice purple and I love the tie-dye blue your daughter has.

    1. Hello! My daughter wears AFOs that are custom casted and made for her. They are a type called “ground reactive” which means instead of being a simple L shape, hers also has a part that comes across the front of her calf. The reason they are called “ground reactive” is because when the heel strikes, the part at the top in front of her calf gives her feedback to let her know she has struck the ground with her foot. Her feet are paralyzed so she cannot feel the heel strike like you or I could. The part in front also helps give some support since she has weaker hip muscles (it kind of pushes back on her leg to get her to stand up straighter). The strapping we have is custom to her as well (her orthotics person calls it the “Lily strapping method”). She kept pushing out of her braces so we needed something that would hug her leg better to keep the brace in place. She does need shoes with her braces. When she was really young they put a nonskid material on the bottom of her brace so that she could stand in them without having shoes on, but she wasn’t walking yet (she was less than a year and we would prop her to stand). On the color – we just had her next set made and she chose pink snake skin pattern this time! :)

  28. Crocs worked for my daughter, too, and boots that zip all the way down to the sole worked. We have also glammed up simple tennis shoes with stick on rhinestones and various groovy sparkly things from Michael’s for dances.

  29. Hello,
    I am new to the world of afos. I am a mother of 3 with 1 six year old boy and 19 mo old twin girls. My youngest twin is believed to have mild cerebral palsy caused by a stroke she suffered in the womb or around the time of birth.

    “E”started crawling at 11 months and walking at 1yr 6 months. She prefered to kneel to walk and dance. Earlier this month she was fitted for an afo for her left ankle/ foot because she doesn’t use her heel when she walks. She loses her balance constantly but that doesn’t stop her from getting around.We have to go back to the ONP to pick up the afo next week and meet with the neurologist to confirm her diagnosis.

    We live in the Pacific Northwest and often have lots of rain and snow in the colder months. I am wondering if there are any cold weather, rain, and fashion boots that can fit over afos?

    I would love to hear from you and hope for some advice or reccomendations for working with afos. I have some questions like: Do you typically purchase shoes a size larger to accommodate for the afo? Can your child run, play, and participate in sports like soccer or dance while wearing the afo? How does your child handle having to wear the afo? Has your child had to deal with bullying or suffered a low self esteem due to the afo?

    I read the above comment about Smart Fit shoes and am definitely going to be picking up some at our local Payless.

    Thank you!
    -Amanda

    1. So sorry for my super delayed response. I’m not really sure what happened to the month of November! There are a few boot options that I’ve heard about that work over AFOs. I will find the links to get them to you. Someone recently mentioned they found boots at Target that have a wide opening at the top and fit her daughter’s AFOs. I am going to try to get down to a Target to see if they have boots for my daughter as well, since I’d love some for the winter months (we are in Ohio).

      For working with AFOs, my best luck has been to take my daughter and her AFOs to a Stride Rite (or other shoe store) to have her measured with her foot in the AFO. They give me a size and a width. Most of the time they don’t have shoes that will work over the AFOs, but I will try on a pair if they do (don’t always purchase them – usually they are tight around the toe box). I’ve tried a few strategies for purchasing shoes – at really young ages it was really hard to find shoes because my daughter’s feet are quite small for her age. One thing I’ve done is search on Zappos for any shoe in the recommended size and width (you can filter for extra wide and shoe size to limit your search). We once ordered 10 pair of shoes, paid with credit, and then returned 8 of the 10 pair that didn’t work, kept two. You have to front the money on credit, but get it back with the return. I’ve also found a particular sneaker that worked every time for my daughter in the small toddler sizes. It’s not fancy our cute, but very functional and worked when I got so frustrated trying to find shoes. They are New Balance lace up sneakers – I found them in toddler sizes in Extra Wide on Amazon.

      Lily does really well with wearing the AFOs, but she has worn them since she was a few months old … so she doesn’t know any different. With things we have that are new (twister cables), we have slowly broken her into them – an hour a day for a couple days, then a couple hours, etc. until she gets used to them / builds up her tolerance.

      We have so far not had any problems with bullying or low self esteem from her AFOs or other equipment. She only recently started to recognize the differences she has. She has had a few (very rare) sad times where something happened – like a little girl in her preschool told her she couldn’t run because she uses a walker. We talked about it, and I tried to address her feelings in a very simple way, and assured her that she can run if she wants to … and that while she may not always be as fast, that the most important thing is continuing to try and having fun.

  30. My son wears DAFOs with a hard foam bottom, giving him a lift as both feet are dropped plus clubbed from Arhtrogryposis. He is 13 now and large for his size. Wearing a size 13 wide but this time we can’t find anything to fit him. The drop foot is making it harder as he gets bigger. I have cut his shoes, re-laced them and I’m now at a loss since nothing seems to fit. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

  31. I found this site by googling for pictures of what my new AFOs will look like and Lily’s were closest. I’m 37, have CP since birth due to hydrocephalus and I use a posterior walker. Never thought about removing the tongue on your shoe. I don’t “run” anymore but I found high tops work with AFOs that are hinged. My last pair and current pair give me no choice but to walk heel toe. The problem was that when I walk my shoes would pop off hence the high tops but after a few months they would hurt so I’d go bigger. My current pair of high tops are Reebok Freestyle size 8 and right when I figured out that it helps to make my foot is in the AFO properly and the two straps will fasten all the way for me, I need new AFOs! My next pair that are like Lily’s are my first pair like that so maybe I’ll walk better and not bang my right knee against the back of my left one and I get them in two days so if my shoes do become uncomfortable I know what to suggest to my mom before I go and buy new shoes that aren’t worn out yet.

    Thanks for the tip!
    Natalie

  32. We are about to get our first pair of AFO’s for my toddler. I have so many questions….do you wear them with shorts in the summer? or always under pants? do socks go under them? you have to wear shoes with them, right? New to this! Thanks for any help or advice you can provide!

    1. We always wear socks under them, but do shorts, pants, etc. because my daughter’s feet are paralyzed we will also often wear them for water play (typically her last pair that she outgrew but still go on to give her some support). You do typically have to wear shoes over them because the plastic is slick and won’t grip the ground well. It can be hard to fit shoes but there are options so don’t get too frustrated (very easy to get frustrated – but just remember you will find something that works). Sometimes be Orthotist will provide shoes to wear on day of braces pick up, but ours hasn’t typically provided them (but have heard this from many others). Hmmm…. Anything else?

  33. Hi amy, my son is seven and he wears the DAFOS. They are the ones that go to his ankles. He says they hurt his feet. I think he might need a wider shoe. Do you think the hack you did with your daughter Lilys shoes would work for him. I also have a sweet Lilly.

  34. Thank you for this post. My son usually ends up in tears when we have to go shoe shopping. Ironically, he has narrow feet so the wide shoes are too wide, even with his SMOs. We tried Plae shoes first on his physical therapist’s recommendation, but they didn’t work for several reasons. 1) Only the girls’ Mary Jane style shoes have no tongue. 2) None of the boys’ shoes open wide enough to fit his SMO because of where the tongue is sewn to the shoe. 3) Plae shoes only go up to size 3. We ended up using a very inexpensive mesh shoe from Starter for summers. They open up very, very wide and stretch to accommodate his SMO. He loves them and they are affordable enough that it’s okay that they wear out faster than a leather shoe. Winter is harder because I want a leather shoe to protect against the weather. Nike has been the only one we have found that offers an all-leather upper and isn’t too wide but still opens up to allow him to slip his foot and SMO in. For winter boots (when he goes sledding or the like), we’ve had a lot of luck getting his SMOs to fit in boots that have a removable liner. I will have to try this to see if it will work for him.

  35. I have been searching for shoes and have settled for shoes over the past year. Lots of frustration and tears too. Thank you for putting this online!

  36. Hi all! My 7 yo son recently started wearing DAFOs and I have sock questions. Got the shoes figured out – xw new balance, Teva sandals and Crocs.
    But, socks. Ugh! We are using the smartfit socks but I feel like I am doing laundry constantly so he has them fresh. How many pairs do you all keep on hand? Those suckers are pricey but I can’t keep up with the laundry. Are there other socks that work well? Also, how do you keep your kids’ feet from being so hot in them? My son doesn’t complain but his feet STINK at the end of the day. And with only an hour a day of “free” time out of braces it doesn’t seem like much to air out his feet. Do your kids take socks off to sleep? Currently my son has a rash on his feet. Not sure if it’s because we are out of town in a more humid climate.
    Thanks for any advice you can pass on!!

  37. AWE THANK YOU!! I would have never thought about removing the tongue – can’t wait to get home this evening and try it on my son – so the velcro can actually close!! Thanks again from me and my son (who’s learning to embrace his AFO brace)

  38. My daughter is 29 now. (Eek!) She has worn an articulating AFO on her right leg since she was 9 months old. Shoe shopping has always been a grueling ordeal so much so that I still go with her to find shoes, and constantly check the internet for any new sources. We found Skechers to be the best options over the years. The toe box was usually deep enough and wide enough in the athletic styles. The mary Jane’s worked pretty well by removing the insole for the foot that wore the orthotic and using a heel hugger in the other shoe. We gave up a long time ago on anything more stylish, but the Skechers come in a lot of styles etc. Furry Ugg style knock-off boots that have a side opening can be hacked by ripping the opening down more. She usually chooses dress styles that can be worn with leggings, matching socks and Mary Jane’s, or boots. In hotter months she will wear a flesh colored sock under her flesh colored afo and go bare legged on the other with crocs, keen sandals or the the lighter fabric Mary Jane’s. Any other tips would be welcomed!
    Good luck to all!
    Denise

  39. Omg thank you for this tip!!! I recently had two girls placed in my home for foster care that we are hoping to adopt down the road and the youngest one wears an AFO on one foot. The AFO business is all completely new to me so I’ve been feeling a bit lost but she came with one pair of badly beaten too small of a pair of shoes and had an order placed for a special pair of orthotic shoes that are honestly big bulky & fugly. What breaks my heart most is she wants so badly to fit in and they stick out like a sore thumb and match nothing plus she keeps asking me to buy her some pretty shoes to go with dresses and has never had sandals to wear with shorts in the summer. I’ve been looking everywhere online & instores for ideas without much luck & sadly I don’t think I ever would have thought of this. I literally started balling after reading it because I finally felt that there was some hope in finding her some “pretty” shoes she’d actually be proud of wearing!

  40. Any ideas on how to make water shoes for the pool fit someone with a high arch? Son wears AFO’s but can walk without them… so when he is in the pool he is barefoot. He walks on his tip toes so his heels pop out of the back of any non laced shoe….

  41. We got a pair of lace up tennis shoes from Wal-Mart, light weight, only had to remove the insole. They slide in easily and only went up one size. Best part, they were only 14$! We’ve used plae shoes as well, but these are less expensive. He’s only 5 and grows like a weed, plae shoes are too expensive to get new every 8 months!

  42. I’m 22 and got into a car accident when i was 17 that landed me wearing AFO’s i seriously miss getting dressed up and wearing cute shoes. All i ever wear is sneakers. Does anybody have any good suggestions for shoes that work with AFO’s?

  43. I was just doing a search for something else and found this posting. Just in case this info can help anyone else, here’s what I do for my daughter (8 yrs old and has been wearing an AFO on one leg for 5 years now), I always take the insole out of all her footwear for the AFO leg to make more room. Sometimes, I’ll take the extra sole and put it under the insole of her “good” foot since that shoe usually has extra room. VELCRO RUNNING SHOES – I take the shoes and my choice colour of velcro (bought from a fabric store) to a shoe repair shop and ask them to put on an extension. I’ve done it myself too, but the shoe repair shop has equipment that makes it a quick job for them. I tell them why I need it done and I’ve never been charged more than $5. LACE-UP RUNNING SHOES – I buy longer laces online in the colour I want. I’ve also just bought online a pair of no-tie laces (my daughter still struggles to tie up her own laces, so I thought this style may make her more independent). Not sure if they work yet though. DRESS SHOES – I’ve bought dress shoes that are wide enough to fit the AFO and then had a matching colour velcro strap attached across the top of shoe (similar to Mary Jane’s) so that the shoe stays on my daugher’s foot. RAIN BOOTS – We’ve used an exacto knife to cut cheap rubber rain boots into rain “shoes” – a small V-shaped slit down the front helps them go on easily. They don’t cover the leg at all but at least it prevents the foot from getting a soaker, as long as she stays out of the big puddles. WINTER BOOTS – We get a wide lace up boot but it’s always a struggle to find winter boots that go on over the AFO. It usually involves trips to a variety of stores to find one that works.

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