When you hear the word “orthotics,” you may picture an insert made for arch support inside a shoe. While arch supports are one kind of orthotic device, there are many more designed to help children weakened or impaired by an injury or health condition.
Orthotic Care Helps Children Function at Their Best
Pediatric orthotics treat many parts of the body and come in many forms—from rigid braces and splints to soft, pliable support—but they have one thing in common: they help kids achieve better body alignment and movement. For kids with serious ongoing health conditions, orthotics may provide as much benefit emotionally as they do physically, promoting independence, comfort and self-esteem.
Most families seek orthotics through a recommendation of a primary care physician, specialist or physical therapist after an evaluation suggests a child may benefit from orthotics. Although there are many ways to acquire orthotics, Riley at IU Health offers distinct advantages to families across Indiana.
- Comprehensive evaluation. Our pediatric Orthotic Program brings the expertise of physical therapists and licensed orthotists to your child’s evaluation. We use a series of objective tests to measure how each child functions and determine what combination of orthotic and rehabilitative intervention will support them best.
- Multidisciplinary care. Working hand-in-hand as a multidisciplinary team, our orthotists, physiatrists, physicians, occupational and physical therapists deliver a customized care plan that combines skilled rehabilitation services and orthotic expertise to deliver a better result for your child. This comprehensive approach helps each child meet goals and function at an optimal level.
- Convenience. We make it more convenient for you and take less time to meet your child’s needs because our evaluations, treatments, design, modifications and fittings are done in the same location.
- A better fit. We use multiple orthotic vendors to give your child a proper orthotic fit. An expert fit is especially important in growing children and adolescents.
We treat children from birth through age 21 and meet with families at every stage of a child’s growth and development to make sure orthotic devices fulfill each child’s needs for as long as necessary.
Why Riley for Your Child’s Orthotics?
The Orthotics Program at Riley at IU Health offers sophisticated diagnostics that help us treat your child. These advanced tools help us assess children before and after orthotic fit to confirm the orthotic devices work as planned and have maximum impact on a child’s functional performance. Our specialists gather precise data about the effect of orthotics on stride, step length and width, gait, balance and other important aspects of movement. We use this data to design and make appropriate adjustments to your child’s orthotics.
What Conditions Do Orthotics Treat?
Physical therapists, occupational therapists and physicians recommend orthotics to treat a wide range of pediatric conditions, from weakness in the lower extremities, to misalignment of bones and abnormal muscle tone or spasticity of muscles. Eighty percent of children with cerebral palsy, for example, have spastic muscles that can often be stabilized with orthotics to help them function better.
In children who have cerebral palsy, orthotics can also:
- Establish a better gait
- Help children transition from sitting to standing
- Improve range of motion
- Increase step length
- Reduce the chance of falling or accidents
- Control muscle imbalances
A combination of rehabilitation and orthotics can benefit some conditions so much that a child may only need an orthotic device temporarily. Other children have underlying conditions that create an ongoing need for orthotics. If so, those devices may need to be modified or adjusted as they change and grow.
Here are a few examples of how orthotics can support a child:
- Thoracic lumbar sacral orthotics (TLSOs) are corset-like aids that support postural corrections and promote better alignment of the trunk after a spinal injury or as part of an early scoliosis correction plan.
- A head or neck brace may keep the head in proper alignment after an injury.
- Splints can prevent wrist flexion contractures in children with cerebral palsy or help a child maintain a certain position, allowing a burn to heal correctly.
- Orthotics may help ankle alignment, correct feet that turn in or out or support a joint dislocation.
Materials used to make orthotics may be rigid, flexible or semi-flexible, depending on their purpose. Some orthotics are custom-fabricated; others are ordered in prefabricated sizes. If your child needs orthotics, we customize them for his or her individual needs, goals and physical characteristics.
Orthotics can be fabricated onsite through a collaboration with a third-party provider. All Riley at IU Health patients are free to select the orthotic provider of their preference. Our therapists work with all orthotic vendors.
Conditions & Services
We treat all Orthotics & Ankle Foot Orthosis Footwear Combination conditions. Below is more information about some, but not all, of the conditions that we treat.
We offer a number of different Orthotics & Ankle Foot Orthosis Footwear Combination services. Below are some, but not all, of the services that we provide. If you have a question about a specific service that is not listed here, please contact our program.
Related Programs & Departments
Related Programs & Departments
We provide multispecialty care for a number of conditions. Below are links to our related programs & departments.
For Health Professionals
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Riley at IU Health rehabilitation therapists use evidence-based techniques informed by research at the School of Health and Human Sciences (SHHS) at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. Researchers in 11 SHHS laboratories study a wide range of therapies to determine which treatments deliver the most effective recoveries. Our dedication to research, professional growth and development brings the latest knowledge to families who choose Riley at IU Health for their child’s healthcare.
Students interested in advanced studies in physical therapy can pursue a Doctor of Physical Therapy at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis School of Health and Human Sciences. The program is augmented by a wide range of clinical experiences through partners such as Riley at IU Health.