My wife took our daughter to the physical therapist's office this past week to get fitted with her new ankle braces. Officially they are Dafos made by Cascade and to answer the question of cost, our insurance was billed $780 for the pair. We have yet to see how much the insurance will cover, but already I'm pleased with the price compared to what others have mentioned.
The braces fit like a charm but my little girl was seriously upset when the therapist put them on her feet and legs. My wife tried to calm her and tell her they were just special shoes, but my daughter wasn't having any of that. She wasn't really willing to walk in them at the therapists office either.
But once she got home things began to improve. Kids adapt so quickly and soon she was pulling to stand against the furniture again and cruising along the couches. The braces do a wonderful job keeping her ankles straight. My wife and I can already tell that our little girl is getting more confident on her feet now that the floppy ankles are out of the equation. My wife took her out with her walker for a bit yesterday and she was going fast and furious up and down the sidewalk.
The braces themselves are pretty small, light and don't get in the way of crawling. The velcro straps fasten just below the knee and across the top of the foot. One foot strap on each brace has pictures of little children doing various activities. I was pretty concerned at first because the braces cover the ball of her foot and heel completely. Her toes are exposed but I can't imagine learning to walk without being able to feel the bottom of my feet. It would be like learning to walk while wearing casts. Not easy, but my little daughter doesn't seem to mind too much. She wants to walk so badly.
The braces did spark a couple other concerns though. All of a sudden none of her shoes fit! Of course the day of the fitting we had a wedding reception to go to and school the next day. Can't go without shoes to either of those places. So we hunted around Target and Walmart looking for something that would fit over the braces and not be too huge. It wasn't easy but my wife perservered and found a pair of sandals with an elastic around the back of the heel and velcro over the toes. They fit well and they were pink. My daughter loves them and can walk well in them so they'll do for now.
I asked the folks at the 1p36 Deletion support group about shoes and found that there is a website called hatchbacksfootwear.com that sells specialized footwear for kids with dafos. They had all kinds of styles for boys and girls both dressy and athletic. And my wife has fallen in love with all the cute pink shoes for our little girl.
The other issue we'll just have to be vigilant about. Turns out if they're left within reach, my daughter likes to chew on her dafos. The rigid plastic outer shell makes too good of a chew toy to pass up, so we have to keep them on her dresser when they're not on her feet.
This is just the beginning of many new adventures but I really hope this will be one of the last milestones along the road to getting my daughter walking.