Happy New Year! We had a quiet and relaxing holiday break. Chinese food for Christmas dinner, several pajama days and a few visits to local parks made for much needed family time. Alas, reality has set in - school is back in session, cold weather has hit and we are back into the swing of our regularly scheduled program.
Ben wears ankle foot orthotics (AFO's) to help him walk. They give his lower leg and ankle support and help keep his foot in the proper place. His feet tend to pronate - turn in so he is walking on his arch. Without these orthotics, he would not be able to walk as much as he does in his walker at school and with assistance at home.
AFOs also have their downfall - they are big, bulky, difficult to get on and very expensive (about $1000-2000 a pair). It is recommended to recast every six months for new orthotics, especially if your child's foot is growing. Although Ben's shoes are rough looking after six months, the AFO's themselves are in fairly good shape. They are made of hard plastic and since he does not run or play in the mud, they are clean and re-usable. It seems a waste to throw them out.
Ideally, the orthotic needs to be made for a specific person. In the United States, it is illegal to reuse orthotics. In places like third world countries where access to healthcare and resources for orthotics may be unavailable, it is possible to reuse them.
There are organizations that will collect the used orthotics from individuals or from orthotic companies and send them to those in need. Here is a group of organizations working together to donate used braces:
Miracle Feet - Website
Mommies of Miracles - Facebook Page
Mommies of Miracles - Website
Donation Program Flyer
If you know of any other organizations doing something similar, please add in comment section and I will add to the Resource Page.