Pediatric Orthotics 101: Does My Child Need Pediatric Bracing?

January 15, 2020

Your child’s growth and development are extremely important. When you notice your child standing or walking awkwardly, it may be a sign that he or she needs pediatric orthotics. But how do you really know if your child needs pediatric bracing in Kansas City?

Our orthotic specialists at Horizon Orthotic & Prosthetic Experience understand that maneuvering through the world of bracing can be challenging and even scary. That’s why we work hard to educate parents to ease that stress, and we pride ourselves on offering a full range of high-quality pediatric bracing in Kansas City.

The purpose of pediatric orthotics and bracing

Pediatric orthotics, just like other forms of orthotics, are used to reduce pain, correct a deformity, or prevent further deformity. They can also alleviate pressure from specific parts of the body. It’s very important that the pediatric orthotics fit well to reduce swelling, redness, and other skin conditions.

Different braces aim to do different things. With proper fitting and alignment, a great brace can control or limit joint movement, correct certain deformities, increase range of motion, strengthen weak muscles, and improve overall functionality.

Pediatric bracing in Kansas City can relieve conditions such as:

  • Spasticity
  • Hip and knee hyperextension
  • Pigeon toes
  • Bowlegs
  • Knock knees
  • And more

Pediatric bracing may also be prescribed for children with medical conditions, including:

In general, there are four main reasons why a physician would require or recommend orthotic usage.

(1) Post-correction bracing

Post-correction bracing is usually a requirement. For example, if your child has had some kind of correction surgery, he or she will need a brace to maintain those changes. This type of pediatric bracing tends to be temporary and a child only needs to wear post-correction bracing for a few weeks or months.

(2) Functional bracing

Functional bracing can help your child with walking and/or standing. For example, a back brace can help maintain balance for standing, while ankle or knee orthotics make it easier for the child to move around.

(3) Preventative bracing

Preventative bracing is a little bit more challenging since it doesn’t always work. It is used to prevent another condition from arising, such as scoliosis in children with Cerebral palsy. Keep in mind that preventative bracing isn’t a cure, but sometimes, it can delay some conditions and increase comfort.

(4) Corrective bracing:

Corrective bracing can correct certain congenital (a condition present from birth) deformities, such as clubfoot. It can also be used to correct spinal curvatures (scoliosis) that develop during adolescence. In addition, they can help children with mild-to-moderate neuromuscular conditions.

Common types of pediatric bracing in Kansas City

Pediatric Ankle Foot Orthosis (AFO)

AFOs treat foot and ankle conditions and provide support for the lower extremities. It’s important that a child can focus on walking rather than having to worry about trying to balance too. AFOs work by creating a foundation for that to happen.

Learn about foot and ankle bracing for adults.

Supra Malleolar Orthosis (SMO)

Commonly used for children, SMOs are designed to support the foot just above the malleolus (ankle bone). Physicians usually prescribe this type of pediatric bracing for children with flat feet. They work by maintaining a vertical heel and supporting the arches. As a result SMOs can improve walking and balancing.

Cascade Dynamic Ankle Foot Orthosis (DAFO)

Unlike a traditional AFO, a DAFO is more flexible, allowing for a greater range of movement. The custom-fabricated brace wraps around the entire foot and can help provide better alignment than an AFO. A DAFO is designed to offer a range of movement that allows children to play around with different motions while protecting them from harming themselves.

Difference between adult bracing and pediatric bracing

The biggest difference between orthotic bracing for adults and pediatric bracing for children is growth rate. Most of the time, adults are done growing, with the only changes stemming from weight gain or weight loss. On the other hand, children are always growing, and in some instances, growth spurts can greatly decrease the lifespan of a pediatric brace in Kansas City.

Since a child’s brace has to fit just as well as an adult brace, it takes more frequent visits and fittings to ensure the brace is doing its job properly. As a parent, you should always look for signs that a brace no longer fits. This includes checking if the length and width works. Children can grow longer limbs, and the distribution of weight could lead to the brace to be looser than it was before.

When measuring and fitting your child’s pediatric bracing in Kansas City, make sure you’re patient during the process. Growth spurts can happen at any time, including during the fitting process. It may be frustrating to have to wait, but it’s best for your child in the long run.

Common orthopedic concerns for children

Many parents notice small details in their child’s walking and standing that may spark concern. As children develop, their limbs and muscles evolve with them, so something you saw when they were two might be gone by the next year.

But just because some conditions resolve themselves, it doesn’t mean you should let them go. Always talk to a physician before you make any big decisions or forgo any potential appointments looking into pediatric bracing.

Below are some common orthopedic concerns for children, all of which orthotics and/or pediatric bracing in Kansas City may be able to help.

Flat feet

Truth is, most infants are born with flat feet; arches develop as they continue to grow.However, there are instances when the arch never develops or doesn’t fully develop. The best way to catch this is by looking at your child’s ankles. Oftentimes, children with flat feet have ankles that go inward because of how the feet are planted.

We want to emphasize that flat feet aren’t necessarily a problem unless it becomes painful. Other times you can simply avoid shoes (like hightops) that lack arch support or insert arch supports into your child’s shoes. If those still don’t work, speak with an orthopedic specialist in Kansas City to guide you toward the next best steps.

Walking on tippy toes

Toe walking isn’t uncommon for young children, especially toddlers who are learning how to walk. By three, most children stop the habit. If your child occasionally walks on his or her toes after the age of three, it’s usually not something to worry about. The biggest concern comes when toe walking is still constant, and it could mean there’s an underlying medical issue such as cerebral palsy or muscle weakness disorders.

Pigeon toes

Pigeon toes, or in-toeing, often happens to babies between the ages of 8 to 15 months. This mainly happens as the child begins standing on his or her own. There are times when children don’t grow out of that phase, and they always walk with their toes inverted.

In-toeing may be a sign of internal tibial torsion, meaning the lower part of the leg is turned inward. Children who are older than 3 or 4 could also have femoral anteversion where the upper leg is turned inward.  

Pigeon toes don’t usually affect everyday life, but if you have any concerns, you can always talk to an orthopedic specialist.


Bowleggedness comes when the knees appear to bow out, and it can also be inherited. It’s also common in infants, so it tends to go away over time. If you notice your child is still bowlegged after the age of two, the condition may stem from an underlying condition such as rickets or Blout’s disease.


There are two main causes of rickets — a vitamin D/calcium deficiency, or genetic conditions. Most cases are treated with vitamin D and calcium supplements or just being more cautious about your child’s diet. If rickets comes from a genetic condition, your child may need a more specialized treatment from an endocrinologist.

Blout’s disease

Blout’s disease affects the tibia (the lower leg bone), and usually arises when a child is around the age of two. Though the cause is unknown, Blout’s disease leads to an abnormal growth at the top of the tibia near the knee. In some cases, the only way to correct the issue is through surgery or pediatric bracing in Kansas City.

Cerebral palsy and pediatric bracing

About two-thirds of children with cerebral palsy have the ability to walk, but establishing a proper gait to aid the movement can be difficult. This is mainly due to the disease’s effect on joints, muscles, and overall motion patterns.

Pediatric orthotics aim to relieve muscle-joint deformities caused by unbalanced muscle tone. For example, some children with cerebral palsy walk on their toes. An ankle foot orthosis can help stabilize and strengthen the muscles and joints over time to adjust toe walking.

With regular use, bracing can:

  • Increase range of motion
  • Strengthen muscles
  • Improve control over spastic muscles
  • Increase endurance and reduce fatigue
  • Reduce likelihood of injuries or falls

How to get pediatric bracing in Kansas City

The first step to learning if your child needs pediatric bracing in Kansas City is to speak with your family physician, pediatric physician, or orthopedist.  After a thorough evaluation from your physician, your local orthotist at Horizon Orthotic & Prosthetic Experience will be able to customize the orthotic design. Our pediatric-specialized orthotist will evaluate your child and work directly with you, your child’s physician, and your child’s physical therapists to determine the best treatment options available.

Once your child is ready for custom pediatric bracing from HOPE KC, we offer a variety of bracing options to keep up with your child as he or she grows. HOPE KC is known for its innovative custom fabrication of orthotic devices in the state-of-the-art lab located in the Overland Park, KS clinic.  HOPE KC may also consider utilizing an outside manufacturer for the orthotic device.

Some of the more common outside manufacturers and bracing designs include Cascade DAFO, SMOs, AFOs and foot orthotics, Surestep SMOs, and Orthomerica Cranial Remolding Orthoses.

Your child will have access to the latest technologies and pediatric clinical expertise, and we always give each child individual attention and high-quality care from infancy through adulthood.

We have six different locations in the Kansas City metro area and other Missouri cities to help you achieve your goals.

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