I love to write about Namine’s progress in her walker. I haven’t written as much about her braces, though.
I mean, I do write about them from time to time. But like any good piece of equipment, they’re more noticeable when they’re not working. In Namine’s case, “not working” has more often than not meant “no longer fit.” As she has grown, so have her legs, and so have her feet. So of course from time to time, she has to be refitted.
It’s been a while since I’ve had the opportunity to attend her physical therapy sessions. I had such an opportunity yesterday. While I did get the chance to see her walk in her walker — not just across the floor but also on the treadmill — I got to see something I never have before. I saw Namine put on her braces, all by herself.
If you want to get specific, Namine’s braces are technically AFOs. That stands for ankle-foot orthotic, meaning it’s a brace that adjusts the position of her ankle and foot (as opposed to KAFO, knee-ankle-foot orthotic). They’re necessary to wear when she’s standing or walking for long stretches of time — and the hour and a half, sometimes two hours of therapy definitely counts as a long stretch of time.
Namine has told me countless times that her feet always hurt, especially when she’s wearing her braces. But she rarely complains, and the pain seems only to serve as motivation. Motivation to improve herself, to get stronger, to walk better and longer.
I didn’t know that Namine had started to put her own braces on. The therapist had always done it. But Namine’s therapist told me yesterday that just one day, while she had been putting Namine’s braces on her, Namine had declared that she would do it herself. She had needed help at first, of course: the braces must be tight, the soles of her feet planted firmly in the inner sleeve before the more rigid outer shell of the brace could be fitted. But I saw yesterday that Namine had no trouble, and wasted no time, in getting them on.