Shoes for Orthotics, AFOs, DAFOs

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Where can I buy shoes for my child’s AFO? What’s the best shoe for an AFO? Do I have to buy two sizes? These are the most common questions posted in our CHASA support groups. Check out our AFO buying tips, shoes that work well with AFOs, how to adapt flip flops and more so you’re not sitting in store surrounded by 30 boxes of shoes as your toddler screams and people stare at you.

Tips for Buying Shoes for AFOs

  • Take the brace with you
  • You do not have to take your child with you. If your child dislikes shoe shopping, just shop with the brace. Find shoes that might work, then go in with your child or buy multiple shoes and return the ones that don’t work. Remember to keep your receipt and check the store return policy.
  • Wider shoes work better
  • You may have to buy two sizes. Individuals with hemiplegia often have a smaller foot on one side and require two different sized shoes when not wearing their orthotic. Sometimes the orthotic will make up the foot size difference and you can buy one pair of shoes.
  • The most compatible shoe is a closed lace up type shoe, such as an athletic shoe
  • You may need to pull the insole out for a better fit. Ask your orthotist if it’s okay to pull the insole out of the shoe to make room for the brace. This is especially important if your child has a leg length difference.
  • Look for shoes with a wide toe box
  • Look for lace up shoes that have laces that will allow you to open the shoe as widely as possible
  • If sneakers have a piece of fabric attaching shoe tongue to the shoe – cut this fabric to allow more space to insert AFO
  • Watch for shoes that zip up the sides or back. Sometimes it’s easier to insert the brace into this type of shoe.
  • Favorite shoes that fit over orthotics:  Hatchbacks, Stride Rite, New Balance, Converse, and Nike.
  • Join the CHASA Shoe Exchange. Find someone who wears opposite sized shoes and trade.
  • Avoid the shopping in person stress and consider ordering shoes from Zappos.

Buying Shoes for AFOs – Can I buy two different sizes for the price of one pair? Yes!

  • Nordstrom Department Store will  sell a left and a right shoe in different sizes and you’ll only pay for one pair of shoes.
  • Brooks brand will sell you two different sizes of shoes for the price of one pair plus an additional $30. You order from a local store that sells Brooks, usually a Runner’s store, and they have the shoes shipped to their store. You can’t order two different sizes directly from Brooks.
  • Parents report that other stores may sometimes sell two different sizes of shoes for the price of one pair. Just explain your child’s situation and ask! If you score a win, let other parents know in our support groups.

Shoes that work well with orthotics

Plae Shoes – Velcro straps, removable insole. Learn more about Plae Shoes and orthotics
Answer 2 Shoes for AFOs – Designed to look like traditional shoes, yet, accommodate AFOs, DAFOs and orthotics. Search the site under Footwear.
Drew Bloom II – Footwear designed with twice the toe room of a traditional shoe. The extra space can alleviate swollen feet and allow the use of several custom orthotics on top of the factory insole.
Hatchbacks -A line of shoes designed specifically to address the needs of children wearing AFOs, DAFOs, and orthotics. Sometimes medical insurance or Medicaid will cover the cost of Hatchbacks.
Nordstrom’s – will only charge you for one pair, even if you have to have a different size or width.
The Wide Shoes – Carries men’s and women’s medium, wide and extra wide width shoes. Also carry children’s orthopedic shoes for children who need extra-depth to accommodate AFO’s, KAFO’s and inserts.
Soft Star Shoes – Design your own shoes.

Basketball Shoes and Orthotics

Parents recommend the following shoes for sports:

  • Nike or Adidas high tops over a hinged AFO. Take the insole out and loosen laces all the way down the shoe to get the AFO all the way into the shoe. This is especially important in the beginning when the shoe is stiff.
  • Brooks

Socks Designed for Orthotics or AFOs

AFO Socks

Knee high socks work well with taller braces. These can often be purchased from:

  • Nordstrom
  • Lands End
  • Sporting goods stores
  • J C Penney
  • Old Navy
  • Stride Rite
  • Gymboree
  • Kohl’s
  • Children’s Place
  • Hot Topic

CHASA Orthotic Grants

Having problems paying for your child’s orthotic? CHASA helps families of children and young adults who have a diagnosis of hemiplegia. Learn more.

Adapting Flip Flops

My daughter Anna has cerebral palsy, the result of a stroke at birth. But she’s also a teenaged girl, and sometimes she just wants to be like her friends. In summer, that often means she would love to wear flip flops. Up until this summer that was something she could only dream about. Because of spasticity in her right foot, caused by her cerebral palsy, flip flops are nearly impossible for Anna to wear. But then we thought of a way to add a nearly invisible strap to a flip flop. While she still can’t run in flip flops, at least she can wear them to the pool and back or out to the movies with her friends.

Adapted shoesAll you need to make this is one pair of flip flops, a package of clear elastic (which you can buy from most fabric stores and hobby shops) and a rubber-based adhesive, such as E-6000 or Goop. Attach an elastic strap to points about one inch from where the flip flop side straps attach to the sole. Then let the adhesive set overnight.

My daughter wore her invisible-strapped flip flops more than a dozen times before the elastic stretched a bit and we had to replace the strap. But that’s so easy to do that we could replace the straps time after time for the full lifespan of the shoe if we wanted to without any real frustration setting in.

Other Resources

Orthotic grants for kids and teens with hemiplegia

Meet other parents of kids, teens and young adults with hemiplegia

Ask your friends to donate to the CHASA Orthotic Grant Program