A Guide to Pediatric Bracing
Pediatric bracing covers a wide range of ages, from toddlers all the way through young adults. A great deal of physical change occurs throughout this time, especially concerning the musculoskeletal system. Because of this rapid change in physical development, it is crucial to have an orthotic doctor specializing in pediatric bracing.
Pediatric braces need to be designed keeping the functional needs of a child in mind. For children on the younger end, that focus might be on stability and structure, but as they grow older orthotic devices designed to allow for more mobility are required.
Regardless, each patient is unique in personality and need. Pediatric bracing devices should be custom fitted to address individual requirements.
Pediatric Orthotic Conditions
Orthotic bracing works to address a range of conditions, from preventing injuries in young athletes to helping lessen motor impairments associated with chronic conditions. If your child has one of these chronic conditions, they may recommend the use of a pediatric brace:
- Cerebral Palsy
- Muscular Dystrophy
- Down Syndrome
- Blount’s Disease
- Bow Leg
Even in the absence of a chronic health condition, if a child exhibits flat feet, toe walking, weakness, poor balance, frequent tripping, or leg length discrepancies that don’t seem to be improving around the age of two, a pediatric brace may be helpful.
Remember, pediatric braces are made to improve walking patterns and aid physical development. Minor problems can be corrected before they become more severe mobility impairments if caught early.
Always check with your pediatrician before considering an orthotic brace. Their input is needed for prescriptive devices, and having a physical therapy or rehab team will ensure the best outcomes from usage.
Types of Pediatric Bracing Devices
Pediatric bracing devices for the lower extremities are designed to help control movement without applying resistance to the desired or appropriate range of motion. They primarily work to help control the transverse rotation of the lower extremities joints, i.e., the ankles, knees, and hips.
You will most often hear them referred to as a few types that denote the area or amount of coverage the device provides.
- Ankle Foot Orthoses (AFO): The most commonly prescribed pediatric brace orthosis AFOs can be made of many different materials, including leather, silicone, or metal but are most commonly constructed of plastic.
- Knee Ankle Foot Orthoses (KAFO): These types of braces extend further up the legs and help stabilize from the knees down.
- Hip Knee Ankle Foot Orthoses (HKAFO): Covering the entirety of the lower extremity from the hips and lower, HKAFO bracing devices are the largest.
You can find orthotic braces in most pharmacies and sports stores. In some cases, these may be adequate to meet the mobility needs but are generally not recommended for constant wearing. For those who require mobility support for a significant portion of the day, getting fitted for a custom pediatric brace can save a lot of hassle and discomfort.
When your child is fit for a brace, the clinician should provide instructions on how the orthotic device functions, how to care for it, and tips for keeping your child comfortable during use. Some pediatric orthoses might only be worn part of the day or when active. Others require continuous use.
Acclimating to Brace Use
While pediatric bracing will make movement more manageable, there is no denying the devices used can be relatively bulky and difficult to hide. Since plastic, the most common material, is highly customizable, you will have the option to choose the color and design of most pieces when picking out the device.
Use this chance to let your kid express their personality. They’ll be more likely to embrace wearing the brace.
Work with your child’s physical therapist on how to move optimally in the device. They will help make sure the device is fitted correctly and help set goals to judge the progress made. A poorly fitted or misused device is going to be uncomfortable and challenging to get any child to wear or move in without a fuss.
Wearing an orthotic device can be a significant change. Your child will look to you for guidance on how to cope. We have talked previously about how to help your child cope with an orthopedic brace or prosthetic limb. Stay positive yourself, get support when needed, and patiently encourage.
Specialized Pediatric Care in Western North Carolina
If your child’s pediatrician has recommended pediatric orthopedic bracing to improve their mobility, Orthopedic Appliance Company can help. We have provided Asheville residents with the highest quality custom pediatric orthotics since 1960.
We will work with you, your child’s pediatric and rehabilitation teams, and their unique needs to develop braces that will improve your child’s mobility and freedom. We provide a variety of orthopedic devices, including:
- Pediatric Ankle Foot Orthotic Braces (AFO)
- Pediatric Shoe Modification
- Pediatric Knee Ankle Foot Orthotic (KAFO)
- Pediatric Reciprocating Gait Orthotic (RGO)
- Pediatric Scoliosis and Spinal Curve Braces
For more information on pediatric bracing devices or to set up an appointment to discuss getting your child fitted, contact the Orthopedic Appliance Company. We have three locations conveniently located throughout Western North Carolina and are open Monday through Friday.