Clare is joining the ranks of the AFO Club - not as glamorous as it sounds. In this case, AFO stands for Ankle Foot Orthosis. An AFO is a plastic brace worn on the lower leg and foot to support the ankle and hold the foot and ankle in the correct position.
Clare had her orthopedic consult and x-rays today. We liked the orthopedic surgeon. Although he was brisk and jumped around quite a bit (as Shawn put it, it was as if he was saying what was in his brain as fast as it was going through it), he was thorough and good with both Clare and us. After examining Clare and watching her sit and stand, he thought her standing and sitting were both very good positionally. He confirmed what we already knew that Clare has low tone and very flexible joints. After Clare had her hips and spine x-rayed, we met with the doctor again to go over the films. Her hips and spine looked great, so there is nothing skeletal going on that is preventing Clare from walking. His opinion is that Clare's three big obstacles are her low tone, flexible joints, and confidence in herself. Therefore, he recommended she start wearing AFOs to support her feet and ankles when she is standing and walking. Hopefully with more support, Clare will feel more confident and start cruising at least. Although I am not thrilled that Clare needs "special shoes" to walk, if it gets her to walk, then I will be thrilled.
Clare is getting fitted for her braces next week and, once they come in (probably in a couple weeks), we'll start her in them a couple hours a day. Her PT and OT will continue to work with her in her braces on walking and on developing her arm strength so she can pull herself up into a standing position. Although the doctor warned that Clare may still be a year (or even two) away from walking independently, we are hopeful this is a step in the right direction. Clare is so curious right now that I know she will love being able to walk once she knows she can do it. Then I know I'm the one who's in for it keeping up with her!