Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Hatchbacks: Shoes for DAFOs

I wrote some time back about my daughter's DAFOs and how much they've helped in getting her up and cruising along furniture and using her walker. She gets a bit stronger and more confident every day. The best thing is that DAFOs make it so she doesn't walk on the sides of her feet anymore. Her ankles are kept stable so she can concentrate on the other mechanics of walking.

The worst thing about DAFOs, we quickly discovered, is finding shoes that work with them. The day my daughter got them we had a wedding reception to attend and we ended up finding some sandals at a store on the way there. None of her shoes from before were even close to fitting over the DAFOs. The braces make her foot much larger and her ankle can't bend to fit most regular shoes over her foot anyway.

Thankfully, since then I've recieved some great suggestions from others on how to find great footwear that works well with with DAFOs. Some parents have had good success with various kinds of sandals especially Crocs. So we've got some of those for the summer months.

The best all around "DAFO shoes" we've found are Hatchbacks. They are shoes made with breakaway sections toward the rear of the shoe. Thanks to these breakaway sections, when inserting the foot, the shoe bends to fit instead of the ankle. This is great because that ankle is held stationary by the brace. Once the foot is inside the shoe, the breakaway sections are held together with velcro.

The style we've bought for our daughter is made of real leather and look pretty nice. They come in various styles for boys and girls and we'll be buying more as we have the money. Pricing is the biggest issue I have with Hatchbacks. Most pairs run close to $50. But to have shoes that fit well with DAFOs and look good, it's worth the price. They've also held up pretty well with my daughter's active (she never sits still) lifestyle. So far no real signs of wear in the couple months she's been wearing them.

At the top of this post you'll see a photo of the Hatchbacks style my daughter wears nearly every day. To see more styles and pricing visit http://www.hatchbacksfootwear.com/.


Susan Witter said...


Hi. Your blogs of your daughter’s experience with DAFOs have been very interesting to me. I work for Cascade Dafo, Inc., and this kind of feedback—honest, practical opinions about how the experience is going—is a real gift to us. I’ll make use of your thoughts as I write the “What to Expect” portions of the new website we’re working on.

I asked our Business Development Manager, Annie Shannahan, for any thoughts on shoes. Here’s what she said:

“The recommended shoe brands to use with Cascade DAFOs include Hatchbacks (www.hatchbacksFootwear.com), Keeping Pace (www.keepingpace.com) and Answer2 (www.thewideshoes.com).
We also recommend SmartKnit seamless AFO & KAFO socks, available for purchase through Cascade Dafo customer service at 800-848-7332.”

Finally, I read through some of your other Mobility blogs and saw the issue about her fear of falling. Here’s a completely un-informed opinion—have you ever tried playing some version of Ring Around the Rosy with your daughter? You know—the one that has “and we all fall down!” at the end. The point is, everyone playing falls down. If she has to play it by holding on to you, then you both can fall down (with you controlling it) together. This is just an offhand suggestion. I am not a physical therapist.

I enjoy the blogs you write, and I commend you for taking the time to do it.


Susan Witter
Education Resources team, Cascade Dafo, Inc.

Nate said...

Hi Susan,

Thanks for stopping by the blog. Thanks, too, for the additional places to go look for shoes and socks to go with Whitney's DAFOs. I haven't posted an update on her mobility lately, but she's doing pretty well at getting around with her DAFOs and walker. Her ankles are getting stronger too!

Thanks for working for a great company that helps kiddos like mine!

Susan Witter said...

Nate, I got further comments on shoes from Loretta Sheldon here at Cascade Dafo. She says,

Regular sneakers often work. You might try cutting the shoe at each side of the base of the tongue to make it wider. Removing the insole of the shoe is recommended and adds depth. Popular skateboarding styles such as Vans and Etnies are made wide, and New Balance brand can be ordered in wider widths. There are a couple of speciality shoes you may want to look at: www.keepingpace.com or hatchbacksfootwear.com
I usually recommend that parents initially go shopping without the child, taking the brace alone, until they narrow down the choice to 2 or 3 shoe styles.

Vess & Kim said...

I just ordered Hatchbacks for my daughter (20 months) to go with her new AFOs. They seem very heavy to me. Has anyone else noticed that? Was it a problem for you?

Nate said...

They are quite heavy compared to other children's shoes. But Whitney adjusted pretty quickly. And with all the heavy leather they are extremely durable. Hope your little one does well with them.

Best wishes,

Christopher said...

My son has been using his AFO's for a couple of months now he is 30 months old (2 1/20 and he is adapting quite well. I chose to post about the heaviness of the shoes. As I am big into Physical education/excercise I thought it would be helpful to note a couple of things:

A heavy shoe (often frowned on initially by the wearer) is actually better in this case, as it promotes more strength in the legs, ankle and muscle coordination. by having a heavy shoe it is going to be a blessing over time as the muscles develope more and more and the childs coordination is increased. The better materials are an upfront bonus as we wont have to buy the shoes every couple of months from the lack of quality. Again, I am posting from my personal beliefs and experience and the happiness I am experiencing with my son.


Angie said...

Hi. I have been reading the post about DAFO's and Shoes and I can completely relate! My 4 yr old daughter Alyssa has had braces for many years now with our greatest challenge always being "finding a shoe that works". Alyssa's therapist has always told us to stick with a light weight shoe. The best shoe we have found to date that isn't a specialty shoe is saucony athletic shoes in a wide width. They are very light weight and breathable and they hold up very well.

Nate said...

Hi Angie, thanks for the tip. Whit just got new braces again so we're in the market for some new shoes. We'll check them out!

Patti said...

Hi Nate,
My daughter has been using DAFO's since she was 2 and she is now 23. Hatchbacks are great, but don't get used to them. They only go up to a very low size and they have indicated that they will not make, nor share the patent, to have larger sizes made. My daughter is still very small (she goes to college and everyone thinks she is 12), but her foot is a woman's 6 which is a boy's 4.5. She has been out of Hatchbacks since the small size 7. After going through various shoe producers over the years, I can truly say that the best bet are the K-Mart brands that are leather and Wide. They are easy to modify and they stand up so much better than the soft leather shoes. Slightly embarassing for a college kid, but as she says, she just wants to walk. Good luck - and know that Cascade is a lifetime friend!