Opinion: One Step At A Time: Braces

Here I am in Kindergarten with Mitchell and our teacher Mrs. Stanley.

Michael Reiner Columnist

Putting on my shoes used to be a challenge for me when I was a child. 

My mom used to help me get ready for the day each morning. She would help stretch my hamstrings and Achilles tendons. 

Next, she would put on my AFOs (ankle-foot orthosis.) These braces helped keep my feet and ankles in place so that I could walk properly. 

These braces didn’t feel good. They made me feel uncomfortable and I wasn’t able to get my own shoes on independently because of their awkwardness. I never got to pick out my own shoes at the store as a kid. This is because my mom had to pick styles that my braces would fit in.

However, I never complained because I realized that wearing my AFOs helped improve my walking. If I hadn’t worn my braces, I wouldn’t be where I am today. 

My experiences with braces wasn’t all bad. Going to get fitted for new braces was fun. We went to the Hanger Clinic in Boardman. Joe Whiteside used to custom fit my AFOs for me. He was a really nice guy and I appreciate him for the help that he gave me. 

My favorite part was getting to pick out the color of the Velcro straps for the braces. I wore several different colored straps on them, from red to blue, to even chartreuse. I’ve always liked to wear bright, vibrant colors and I think it’s funny this interest all started from wearing leg braces. 

As I got older, putting on my shoes with my braces still wasn’t fun. I would fight to get them on for quite a long time and I would get really frustrated. Looking back, this struggle taught me self-discipline and independence. 

I am proud to say that I have not had to wear leg braces for nearly 10 years now. Putting on braces was always hard, but this struggle helped me develop into the person that I am today. 

Some things never change though. I am still not into picking out shoes, but I really enjoy that I get to wear more stylish shoes these days. 

The braces that I used to wear helped my legs and my focus on being independent moving forward.

 

 

Contact Michael Reiner at [email protected]