Much to Brian’s likely chagrin, I find myself singing this song to Case almost every time we put on his new Supra Malleolar Orthotic (SMO) foot braces, that I refer to as his boots (I figured that was much easier (for when he does start to talk) than getting him to say, supra malleolar othotics).
He started wearing them about a month ago (when he was 13 months) and at first there was a bit of a learning curve regression. He was so used to pulling to stand the wrong way (i.e. using the top of his feet or the inside of his ankles to push off the ground – yeah, it looked terribly painful) that it took him some time (about two weeks) and lots of practicing and frustration to slowly start to get his foot underneath himself and push up. The main goal of the SMOs is to stop detrimental pronation associated with hypotonia. Without the braces, Case severely pronates and practically stands on the insides of his feet/ankles. The braces offer necessary support to keep him from doing long-term damage to the tendons.
Prior to getting the SMOs, we had many long discussions with our PT, Ginger, as to whether or not to brace (in the pediatric physical therapy community there are two camps – braces v. no braces) due to the fact that some kids rely too much on the bracing and never develop the muscles to walk on their own without them, but after taking a course through the SureStep Orthotics company, Ginger decided that these low-profile braces were for us.
As you can tell in the photo above, the braces are small and quite frankly pretty easy to get on and off. In fact, Case isn’t really bothered by them at all. The only problem we seem to be having is finding shoes wide enough in the heel to fit over them. Ginger says many parents don’t even put shoes on their kids at all (obviously in the summertime mostly) and just attach a little rubber tread to the bottom. So, that’s next on the to-do list for us, because as our last days in NC draw near, the temps are rising rapidly and his little feet are getting very sweaty!
As for progress in the walking arena, he’s making some slow progress. Like I said, he’s getting better at pulling up and does do some slow ‘cruising’, but it seems he’s no where near walking on his own just yet. Right now we’re working on getting him to bend his legs and develop his quad muscles as he tends to tense his entire leg while stepping and standing and looks a little like a zombie when using his push-toy walker. We do lots of exercises using the parallel bars Brian made him, getting him to bend down and pick up toys, etc. Hopefully, all our work will pay off with some more balance and knee-bending soon!
For more information on SureStep, visit their site and check out the video – it’s pretty motivational!