Bracing for a repair job.
December 11, 2020 7:57 PM   Subscribe

I use an Ankle Foot Orthosis for foot drop, from Spastic Paraparesis, on my left foot. The problem is that the Velcro on my brace cuff has worn out, and will no longer hold the brace onto my leg - namely, the strap that attaches to the Velcro patch has been worn smooth, and thus will not stick. (The actual Velcro itself is fine.) Is there a way where I can repair this/fix this myself?

Special Snowflakes: Sewing will be impossible, as I'm right handed....and have a damaged right wrist from a crash, that's in a Spica splint. This is a splint with an immobilized thumb. Also, my spasticity affects the left side of my body more.

This is the brace in question: Ottobock Carbon Fiber Brace

I got the brace 1.5 years ago, and the cuff strap is now completely nonfunctional. Realistically, I only got about 8 months of use out of it, if you take the COVID lockdowns into consideration, before the cuff stopped working. About 4 months in, it stopped sticking on one side, so I had to twist the brace strap to get it to stick. That didn't feel comfortable, nor secure, against my leg. I'm also loath to pay another $55 or so for a replacement cuff that'll probably fail in the same timeframe. Which is a shame, because otherwise? This is the best leg brace I've ever had. Nor can I walk any sort of distance without the brace, as the foot drop makes me trip, even with the crutches.

As a plus, though, I don't really care about the aesthetics; I WFH at a tech job, and it's not customer facing. So I don't mind how punkish the final product looks; I just need something that will make my brace stay on my leg. Only hitch is that I usually wear them under my pants, so it can't be anything that could aggravate or scratch my skin.

So, any ideas here? I'm open to any and all suggestions.

If this helps at all, I'm 4' 11", 140 lbs, and I have very large calves for my size. I can provide measurements if anyone needs them Thank you!
posted by spinifex23 to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I forgot to add - I have to wear the wrist splint 24 hours a day, as I'm being evaluated for a broken scaphoid bone. I'll probably be wearing this, or a cast, for the next 6-8 weeks.
posted by spinifex23 at 8:08 PM on December 11, 2020

Could you wrap one of those self-adhering Ace bandages around the outside of the cuff to keep it together?
posted by TWinbrook8 at 8:34 PM on December 11, 2020 [1 favorite]

If you can manipulate buckles, you might try buying a double d-ring belt (ex1, ex2), cutting it short, and supergluing it to the orthotic.

Caveat: I don't know what the orthotic is made of, so there's the possibility that removing the superglue with acetone would also damage whatever its material is.

Another option would be to superglue the belt around the outside of the existing cuff strap, so that the buckle+strap is holding the velcro in place. If this totally bombs, you've only messed up the already-busted cuff strap.
posted by Metasyntactic at 8:47 PM on December 11, 2020 [1 favorite]

You could get a strip of Velcro (the opposite of whatever you need to stick it to, of course) and try gluing it onto the strap that’s worn smooth. Hot glue might work, or whatever kind of fabric glue is available.

I wish I was there to sew it on for you!
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:25 PM on December 11, 2020 [4 favorites]

Velcro makes stick-on versions and iron-on versions in addition to sew-on versions, in a variety of widths and lengths.

You might find someone who'll sew it for you. I will if you're near me, if we can work out covid precautions.

Duct tape. A single foot long piece might be re-usable for several days. Even better: Gorilla Tape.

Velcro is two parts, the hooks and the loops. Seems like you're saying the hooks are fine, but the loops are worn out and gone?

They used to make re-usable zip-ties/cable ties, if you can find those. They have a tab that lets you release them. Searching "releasable zip ties" turns up some.
posted by at at 9:36 PM on December 11, 2020 [1 favorite]

Velcro makes stick-on versions and iron-on versions in addition to sew-on versions, in a variety of widths and lengths.

You might find someone who'll sew it for you.

Your local cobbler could do it. I'd buy the replacement cuff and have a cobbler repair the original with a length of sew-on loop-type velcro.
posted by sebastienbailard at 9:53 PM on December 11, 2020 [1 favorite]

From the photos, it looks like the strap is made out of something kinda like this Velcro-compatible neoprene, and the hooks are attached to the puffy cuff portion at the back of your calf? And the hooks stick to both sides of the strap?

Velcro One Wrap is a single piece of material with hooks on one side and loops on the other. It's great stuff to have around the house, we use the smaller cable tie versions all over the place. If I'm understanding the orientation of the brace correctly, you could take a piece of One Wrap and either A) press the hooks to the inside of the strap to cover the worn out spot so that fresh loops are facing the existing hook-patch or B) press the hooks to the outside of the strap, and wrap it all the way around to 'tape' it to itself in the front.
posted by yeahlikethat at 9:58 PM on December 11, 2020 [6 favorites]

Thank you, yeahlikethat! It looks like that is the best solution, at least for now. I went ahead and ordered some, and I'll report back on how it goes!
posted by spinifex23 at 11:09 PM on December 11, 2020

Someone in my life has an AFO whose velcro was coming unstuck recently. Caveat, it's a different brand and the failure was in a slightly different place, but I'll describe our approach in case it helps. We used duct tape or the double sided Velcro that yeahlikethat mentions at first, just as a second layer around the outside, which worked okay. The double sided Velcro is great to have around because it's very forgiving, you're not going to mess anything up by trying that and it works for a lot of other household uses.

Then we used wider pieces of single-sided velcro and krazy-glued (the back of) the prickly side to the brace where the original piece had come loose. This was krazy glue between the hard plastic backing of the velcro and the hard material (carbon fiber? plastic?) of the brace, so it's different from how I'm understanding your case. But just linking these fatter strips of velcro here in case they might be part of a solution.
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:09 AM on December 12, 2020 [1 favorite]

Hello fellow brace user! (Mine is different.)

What if you hot glued a new piece of Velcro to the cuff? They do make adhesive backed Velcro but I don’t think that would be secure enough.

Or, the orthotist that fit the brace should be able to repair it him/herself or send it to Ottobock for repair. In fact, someone else might be able to drop the brace off at the orthotist’s for you. Meaning, as long as the brace still fits well the orthotist might be willing to fix it without seeing you if you are concerned about leaving the house because COVID. I’m not sure if the orthotist would charge you. Mostly, orthotists bill upfront for the brace with the expectation that it will need adjustment. I work with orthotists but I am not an orthotist.

In desperation, I once tried to fix a generic brace by wrapping it to my ankle with Coban, that sticky ace wrap type stuff they use to keep the bandage on after you give blood...That ended up being expensive as the Coban needed to be replaced every day or two.
posted by ticketmaster10 at 9:29 AM on December 12, 2020

Yeah, the adhesive on sticky-back Velcro is more for adhering to posters and things that will be hung on display boards.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:58 AM on December 12, 2020 [1 favorite]

Yeah - I think that having a non-sticky Velcro strap that wraps around the outside will be the best solution. I can also wrap it around the rest of the brace/leg, to keep the brace parallel to the leg. It's also easily replaced, which also helps, and I don't have to sew anything. And I can carry extra pieces on me for hikes.
posted by spinifex23 at 3:15 PM on December 12, 2020 [1 favorite]

Last post here - the non-sticky Velcro worked like an absolute charm! I was able trek some 8,000 steps on errands around the neighborhood, and it left the brace securely in place! I'm very happy with it. Thank you again.
posted by spinifex23 at 8:25 PM on December 13, 2020 [2 favorites]

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