Letting it be: toe walking

***If you’ve landed on my blog from searching the ‘net for info on tip toe walking or serial casting or AFO braces, hello. This particular post here is one in a number I wrote about my daughter’s tip toe walking. I encourage you to start with this post instead. It encapsulates our journey more succinctly.***

I’ve written a lot on this blog about my daughter Lydia’s tip-toe walking. It’s been a process, from when she began physical therapy for it almost three years ago, to when she underwent serial casting this summer, to now. {For a history, if you’ve stumbled upon my blog because you’re interested in learning about toe-walking, braces or serial casting, click here to see all of my posts on this subject.}

Look at this picture – this is from February of 08:
She’s high up on her little piggly wiggly toes. That’show she stood and walked, all the time.
And this is Lydia today:
Heels are on the ground.  And that is significant. She never used to be able to stand flat footed. She would stand as she’s pictured in the first picture – teetle-totting on her tipppy tip toes.
We’ve seen two professionals during Lydia’s tip-toe walking progression, a physical therapist and an orthopedic doctor. Before she went through serial casting this summer, Lydia saw the orthopedic doctor. The doctor recommended the casting and we were told to return in six months. Lydia had the serial casting and she made huge gains. She was still walking slightly on her tip toes, but it was much, much improved. She wore braces at night and during the day after school. She has always been a trooper and was doing just fantastic with all of it.
The six month checkup with the orthopedic doctor was at the end of October. The doctor was pleased with Lydia’s progress with the casting. She recommended that Lydia not wear the day-time braces anymore and to discontinue seeing the physical therapist. Her whole stance was that she didn’t want to “over-medicalize” the issue. And we totally agree. She said that some kids are just toe walkers, and some kids will always do it, no matter what. She thinks braces are a good idea, but for Lydia, they weren’t really helping much. Lydia doesn’t have anything mentally wrong with her to cause the toe-walking, it’s just how she is, it’s just how she walks.  She said the serial casting is what Lydia needed at the time that she got it, because it tricked her legs and feet into walking correctly, but no matter how much physical therapy she receives in the future or how long she wears her braces, it is just her body’s natural way to walk tip-toed. The doc recommended that she still wear the night braces as an extra support to help trick her feet, but other than that, just to let Lydia be Lydia.  Again, we totally agreed!  So, no more physical therapy, no more day braces! 
And you know what – she’s doing fine.  We will occasionally notice her up on her tip toes, but it happens when we’re at home and Lydia is either really relaxed, really excited, or really tired. For the most part we just don’t pay attention and we don’t look for it. In the past we had corrected her when we noticed her on her tip toes, we’d say, “get down off your toes” and she’d then go down on her heels (but then be right back up on her tip toes a few seconds later!) She is able to walk heel-to-toe now (she never could do that before, pre-serial casting) and she does that 96% of the time. The doctor told us that the worse that could happen is that Lydia could regress to getting higher and higher up on her toes (like she was before) and that could happen in one, two or three years time, no one knows for sure. At that time we can decide, with Lydia’s input, to do the serial casting again, or just to let it be. The doctor said that as Lydia grows up it will be harder and harder for her to walk on her toes because she’ll be heavier. She could also just grow out of it at any point.
We did so much worrying about the tip-toe walking and we paid attention to it all the time and now, we just don’t. It was a relief when the doctor told us to just let it be. I think we would have gotten to that point on our own in a matter of time, but hearing it made such good sense. Lydia’s tip-toe walking has never caused a problem for her, developmentally. She ran on her tip toes, she skipped on her tip toes. It never affected her daily life.  Wearing the big heavy braces (she had to wear shoes that were three sizes too big to accommodate the braces) did affect her life. They slowed her down a little. They made her tired because they were heavy. They tripped her up.  It wasn’t anything severe, but it did affect her. We’re very, very glad that she won’t be wearing them anymore, and she is as well.
So, Lydia is Lydia and if she walks more and more on her tip toes, that’s okay. We’re letting it be.

4 thoughts on “Letting it be: toe walking

  1. First off, way to go Lydia for being SUCH a trooper with this whole thing! I really think that is amazing that she just carried on with little or no complaining. That speaks volumes to the kind of little girl you have there 🙂

    I am also so glad she doesn't have to wear those braces anymore and the prognosis for the whole thing is good! I can't believe how much she has improved even the last 6 months! AWESOME!

  2. I'm with W.K. – KUDOS to Lydia for being a trooper. So awesome.

    Next, I'm so glad that you have a doctor who truly “gets” your baby girl. Who understands what should and shouldn't be done. And, I love how understanding you and the hubs are. Awesome.

    I'm so glad to see that this has gone so well.

  3. Anon says:

    The only problem there is the unnatural pressure put on the front of the foot in much the same way as if she was wearing high heels.

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