Cerebral Palsy
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Finding suitable shoes for AFO splints

Chloe_ScopeChloe_Scope Administrator Posts: 10,679 Scope community team
edited October 26 in Cerebral Palsy
As part of World CP Day, I'm sharing how I find shoes that work with AFO splints. I know this can be really difficult and I have had many years of trying to figure out some kind of formula.

What are AFO splints?

An AFO is an ankle foot orthotic that is prescribed by a orthotist, it most commonly is worn by people who have cerebral palsy or a condition that causes foot drop.

A fitted AFO splint is plastic splints which has been made using a cast of your foot. They are made to keep feet and ankles in a good position for standing and walking. An AFO may be worn on one foot or both feet. Also, depending on your range of movement it can have a joint or hinge at the ankle or is be fixed in one position.


What shoes work best?

I've previously written about the the emotional impact of wearing AFO splints and how it can be so frustrating when looking for shoes that you like.
Over the years the importance of the right shoes has always been a big deal. I wanted them to look right and yet my feet had other ideas. They need to be supportive and be able to fit an AFO splint, this is not an easy task! Compromising the wants for a need is a common theme when you have a disability.

The type of shoe:

  • Boys/male shoes are sturdy and wider
  • Wide fitting shoes
  • Trainers can fit the best
  • High top shoes can be more supportive
  • Avoid anything with a heel
  • Shoes that have laces and a zip (allows the shoe to be adjusted more)
  • A back high enough to support the splint
  • Durable sole
Cartoon drawing of someone wearing two afo splints and brown brogues

Extra tips:

  • Take the insoles out
  • If you need to buy two pairs some places offer a discount
  • Be sure it’s not too tight on the toes
  • Use a shoe horn if needed
  • Some shoes ‘give’ so will be more comfortable after been worn
  • Extra Velcro can be added if it‘s too short
  • Loosen the laces all the way to the bottom

Particular brands to look out for:

  • Jo‘s Odd Shoes: A Facebook group for people who only need one shoe or buy two pairs in different sizes.
  • Billy Footwear: Functional fashion for all, with shoes that unzip to completely open the front of the shoe.
  • Sketchers zipped shoes: Some Sketcher shoes have zips which enable them to open up further
  • Nike flyEase: Designed by someone with CP, these shoes unzip at the back to fit splints in and require less hand functions to put on.
  • M&S adaptive shoes range: They have school shoes and trainers that have a zip and laces to make it easier for those who have reduced motor function or need shoes to be more adjustable.
Read the full post: Shoes and splints: A guide to find footwear for AFO’s (Chloe Tear)

Do you or your child wear AFO splints? How do you find shoe shopping? Any tips to share? Let us know in the comments below!
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Replies

  • Emma95Emma95 Member Posts: 34 Courageous
    Hi @Chloe_Scope

    Thank you for this post, it's something I always struggled with as a child, and something that makes the idea of possibly getting AFO splints again more daunting! also I love that M&S have brought out adaptive school shoes - they would have been very handy for me as a child! Nice to know bigger businesses are starting to engage with these concerns. 

    Thanks again for this, Emma 
  • Richard_ScopeRichard_Scope Administrator Posts: 2,429 Scope community team
    Fantastic information @Chloe_Scope!
    Scope
    Specialist Information Officer - Cerebral Palsy

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  • StayceStayce Member Posts: 351 Pioneering
    edited October 22
    Hi @Chloe_Scope

    Great post👍.

    Trainer boots or skate shoes best. My tip would be to unlace a trainer completely, helps you get AFO in easier and Ive found this has allowed me to purchase my actual  shoe size or much closer size to  true fit (eg 1/2 size bigger) and then once you have your foot with AFO inside re-lace the shoe.

    Also best to try with older shoes first as they’ll have more give and stretch to get AFO in


  • adamlathamsmithadamlathamsmith Member Posts: 49 Connected
    you could this website https://www.piedro-uk.co.uk
    but they very expensive but you may be able to get them on nhs
  • hdeakinhdeakin Member Posts: 117 Pioneering
    A great post @Chloe_Scope. It is such a difficult task. I wear SAFOs (Silicone ankle foot orthotics) but have had so much trouble. I definitely agree with the nike flyease suggestion. I have them and they don't have a disability price tag attached :)
    I have written a blog about them if it os of interest/helpful to anyone:
    http://hannahdeakin.blogspot.com/2020/02/nike-flyease-trainers-and-safosafos.html  x
  • OddJoShoeOddJoShoe Member Posts: 8 Courageous
    Hi, I'm Jo from Jo's Odd Shoes. I just wanted to let you know that we dont charge for our shoes. All we ask for is postage and packing (£4 per parcel). Hope to see many of you on the group in the future 🦩🦩 
  • Chloe_ScopeChloe_Scope Administrator Posts: 10,679 Scope community team
    Great post @hdeakin! Thank you for sharing. :)

    Thank you for letting us know @OddJoShoe! That's great.

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  • SerendwrSerendwr Member Posts: 4 Connected
    These tips are all great however i still I struggle with finding nice shoes... i hate having to wear clumpy mens footwear especially if i'm going out somewhere smart and want to dress up.  I really miss my shoes from pre-injury (i'm also very aware that i'm lucky in that i have a lightweight carbon fibre splint, so to many the choice i have is already greater than most people have) but considering i've been neither what people would describe as fashion conscious or girly even i'm surprised how upsetting i find this!
  • 3Mamabear3Mamabear Member Posts: 15 Connected
    So strange that this should pop up today. My son got his new afo's Wednesday and we'd pre ordered some Billy trainers. He was so excited, but alas even with the insole taken out they were not wide or deep enough to wear without squashing his toes. The physio mentioned the M&S adaptive trainers, so bright and breezy we went in store. Nope don't stock them. Order online and I saw some velcro ones very similar to the high top Billy shoes, they arrive. I couldn't even get the afo in without his feet in them! 
    Today we took a trip to Clarks. Even their widest fitting trainers wouldn't accommodate the afo. Went into Nike and the loveliest chap recommended the flyease ones. None in store, so they're being delivered in a couple of days. My fingers are tightly crossed. 
    Such a mission to buy a pair of trainers just like his twin brother wears. It's such a simple thing, and I know things could be a lot worse, but my heart breaks for him when yet another pair of shoes don't fit. 
    We've also pinned our hopes on a pair of croc boots in place of wellies, also a no go for him. 

  • MrAllen1976MrAllen1976 Member Posts: 269 Pioneering
    I have big feet, nowadays I take size 9s, but at College the House Parent wanted me to buy a pair of "dressed up" shoes so she inststed on me buying size 8s that didn't even flippin' fit me but looked smart!

  • Tori_ScopeTori_Scope Administrator Posts: 2,113 Disability Gamechanger
    Fingers crossed the Nike ones fit @3Mamabear
    Online Community Coordinator, she/her

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  • norahmaynorahmay Member Posts: 7 Connected
    Hello!
    Fifty years ago l was told by one assistant that l just had to put up with what l could get, when l asked if she had something more stylish. l replied that it does not stop you wanting and trying to get something nicer.Thank goodness things have changed since then. I've done very well with Padders over the years as they do different width fittings.They are available in some shops and on line.       
  • mike62mike62 Member Posts: 34 Courageous
    Hi all
    I'm 63 born with c.p. in my left leg which made it 15mm shorter than the right and with drop foot. My foot tended to drift inwards and tripped over many times as a kid. 
    There was pretty much nothing available until internet and you still have to search all over. I used to buy shoes and get the local shoe repairer to raise the outside heel/sole, this would peel off eventually. Modern trainers have plastic soles so only a certain rubber sole runner Nikes can be glued. 
    It also made shoes heavier and my electrical brain pulses don't get to down to move the muscles up or to the outside hence weaker. And as I got to older becoming a trip hazard. A lot of you know about this. However, I have been able to work full time since 16 so count myself lucky.

    Last year I struggled with lower back pain and my walking gait was not good. Injections to numb the nerves worked but covid stopped that going further. I also got some insoles to improve gait (at £250 a pop I bought 3 pairs. slippers, boots and pair of trainers that's the only three I wear) at the same time I bought soft boots from DB @ https://www.widerfitshoes.co.uk. You can select a wider fit, two removable insoles and higher toe section. This meant I could now put my raised insole in rather than gluing a raise to the sole.

    So next to improve was the drop foot. Going back 5 years were only available from the US but now UK even Amazon.

    I've tried SMBUK AXT from sportsmedbracing.com but it's a bit of a faff and can rub against your skin. I do feel for women wanting to wear nice looking footwear.

    I tried the DORSI-LITE this was probably the better of the splints but the velcro eventually slipped so I wrapped another velcro around it. However, you can wear this inside trainers or boots, but you can feel that something is stuffed in there. It's basically a right angled plastic piece so foot feels not flexible.

    Next up I bought a Step-Smart - pricey cost me £239. It's available from Amazon £188 but maybe cheaper models. This has rubber hinge type things so not as solid as above but the plastic damages/widens your shoe.  

    Yet another device - AFO Dynamic from OSSUR   £69. This rubs against my calf.

    Lastly I bought one to wear during sleep but foot rubs on metal piece so given that up.
    These AFO's are numerous and on Amazon but be careful to measure your foot when ordering. I can understand your frustration especially if it's for your child. I worked with pupils with special needs and saw them with these uncomfortable devices.

  • Tori_ScopeTori_Scope Administrator Posts: 2,113 Disability Gamechanger
    Wow, lots of really useful reviews here @mike62! Thank you for taking the time to share.
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  • 3Mamabear3Mamabear Member Posts: 15 Connected
    Just a quick update. Had success with the Nike flyease! I thought they might be a little shallow, but E said they're more comfy than his Billy high tops. Shall have to purchase another pair! Not so much success with the croc snow boots. They have to go back. Trial and error! 
  • mike62mike62 Member Posts: 34 Courageous
    Thanks for all on this post there is some good information, I'll here l start clicking on the links. 

  • Tori_ScopeTori_Scope Administrator Posts: 2,113 Disability Gamechanger
    Thanks for letting us know @3Mamabear :) And I'm glad the Nike ones are comfy! 
    Online Community Coordinator, she/her

    Want to tell us about your experience on the community? Talk to our chatbot here and let us know what you think
  • hdeakinhdeakin Member Posts: 117 Pioneering
    Serendwr said:
    These tips are all great however i still I struggle with finding nice shoes... i hate having to wear clumpy mens footwear especially if i'm going out somewhere smart and want to dress up.  I really miss my shoes from pre-injury (i'm also very aware that i'm lucky in that i have a lightweight carbon fibre splint, so to many the choice i have is already greater than most people have) but considering i've been neither what people would describe as fashion conscious or girly even i'm surprised how upsetting i find this!
    Yes I know what you mean. I wish I could advise more on pretty shoes 😐 I will shout if I ever have any success!
  • hdeakinhdeakin Member Posts: 117 Pioneering
    3Mamabear said:
    Just a quick update. Had success with the Nike flyease! I thought they might be a little shallow, but E said they're more comfy than his Billy high tops. Shall have to purchase another pair! Not so much success with the croc snow boots. They have to go back. Trial and error! 
    Yay! I am so happy you have had success with the Nike flyease I love mine and have a pink and purple pair 😊
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