Walking has always been a challenge for Bella. When she was 1 year old, I clearly remember sitting in the developmental pediatrician's office being told that she would never walk. My husband and I made it our mission to ensure that we would provide Bella all the equipment, resources, and therapies she required in order to support her goal to take her first steps. It wasn’t until she was 2 years old when she was able to walk independently. My father (who is Bella’s favourite personal trainer), transformed his basement into an physical therapy and occupational gym with three different therapy swing, step boxes, and all sorts of contraptions to engage Bella to lunge, squat to stand, and balance. For one hard year, we never missed beat.
The beautiful day when Bella took her first steps arrived at the age of 2. And since then, she is continuing to accomplish many goals in her repertoire of locomotion skills: Stepping over objects, walking up and down the stairs while holding a railing, stepping onto a stool and turning around, and getting into the car independently. I can summarize how proud I am in this gif...
In June 2018 we went to visit Bella’s team of doctors and nurses at the Holland Bloorview Hospital at the Rett Clinic. During this visit we learned that she is walking with a bilateral knee flexion where she has the inability to fully straighten her legs. Bella has always seeked for sensory information while walking on her toes. When she is wearing running shoes, she is consistently walking with a forward trunk lean which contributes to her likelihood of tripping and falling.
After doing some extra tests we also learned that she has early signs of scoliosis, and her hip x-ray showed that her hips are out of alignment. Our next steps were to be referred to the Orthotics Department in hopes to address her needs through orthotics. Our orthotist worked with us for a few months to improve Bella’s ankle range of motion through an ankle foot orthosis (AFOs). This is a brace made out of plastic that is worn on the lower leg and foot to support her ankle, holds the foot and ankle in the correct position, and corrects her foot drop. Here is what the final product of Bella’s AFOs look like:
After receiving the AFOs we were then on a hunt to find a glass slipper that fit. Holla to all the parents of children with special needs who wear AFOs... I've learned over this past month that it's a biz-natch to find a shoe that not only fits the AFOs, but also looks stylish and is affordable.
Bella now wears her AFOs daily, and I can already see it improving her ankle range of motion. Not only do the AFOs correct her poor alignment in the ankle and foot, it is assisting with her foot and knee positioning during walking and improving her stability for standing. This is my Queen B and her glass slippers that fit!