Dancing for joy with Northcott’s orthotics and custom footwear team

By Northcott customer Denise Costello and Luisa Bustos, 29 April 2019 , Comments

When our customer Denise said she felt self-conscious about wearing her Knee-Ankle Foot Orthotic (KAFO), Northcott’s orthotics and custom footwear team really listened. As a result of polio, Denise uses a KAFO, which is an external, custom built brace that prevents her knee from hyperextending, or bending beyond 180 degrees.

In response to Denise’s concerns about how the KAFO looks, our Pedorthist and bootmaker Craig Scott handcrafted a pair of knee-high boots that could hide the metal and leather of the KAFO and give Denise the confidence she needed.

Northcott’s Orthotist Vandeth Chhun started by creating a fully customised KAFO that provided Denise with the postural stability she needed. Craig then designed and hand-made a boot that provided Denise’s left foot with support and cushioning, and also covered the KAFO discreetly. He then created a matching boot for her right leg. By adding a heavy bulk lining to the right boot, Craig was able to make Denise’s legs look cosmetically the same. This meant Denise could wear dresses and skirts with confidence.

After some fine-tuning to get the boots and KAFO just right, Denise is now dancing for joy at the end result. She wanted to share this about her experience:

When Vandeth and Craig first brought out the brace and boots I felt trepidation. I was concerned whether they would work or not. I stood up in them and it felt very strange. It was uncomfortable and I was worried I might fall or not be able to balance.

Vandeth and Craig looked at me and said, ‘take a walk’. I walked slowly with my crutches at first but it felt awkward and tight, so Vandeth and Craig took the boots away and made some adjustments. When they came back, I attempted to take another walk. It felt better and I started to feel better about walking.

Then, after the next adjustment, I felt more comfortable and gained a little confidence. I started to walk on my own, very slowly, holding Vandeth’s arm. It was a good feeling. Then she told me to try walking on my own. I thought, ‘no I can’t yet’. But I did and it went well. Then she said walk down the hall and I thought that’s too much.

However, I thought it was better to attempt that while Craig and Vandeth were with me in case I fell. I started slowly down the hall and gradually I started to feel good. I became so confident and happy that I wanted to dance. I took Vandeth’s arms and started to dance the cha-cha. I couldn’t believe I was doing this in my new brace and boots!

Earlier I had told Craig the look of the brace made me self-conscious. He made a real effort to cover them up and for this I am really grateful. Craig made a pair of black boots that actually went on top of my brace covering the metal and leather. They look so much nicer with my dress.

Craig had listened and understood my concerns about how it would look with my dresses. I am very grateful to him for making that effort. They look good!

I am very grateful to Vandeth for all the effort she put in as well, and for making sure the brace fitted the shape of my leg and was right for me.

Thank you very much! You are greatly appreciated.”

  • Denise Costello

Related content

Our bootmaker Craig Scott has been creating bespoke, handmade medical grade footwear for over 35 years from our Parramatta office. Read about his work.

Want to know more? Learn about our Orthotics and Custom Footwear service here.  

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