We believe better mobility gives all children a wider range of experiences, more success in their activities, and ultimately, more control over their lives.
What makes a DAFO unique?
The intimate contact of a thin, flexible, contoured brace, wrapping around the entire foot, provides better sensation and alignment than a typical rigid ankle foot orthosis (AFO).
Children learn movement by moving. Rather than bracing heavily, we want the foot and ankle to experience as much useful movement as possible. A child needs to explore foot and ankle position in a guided range -- like guard rails on a highway, with the freedom to move ahead but with protection from danger.
That's why we believe in creating orthoses with as much flexibility as possible along the planes where a child has good control, providing support only where a child needs it.
In late 1980, Don Buethorn, CPO, started a small Orthotics & Prosthetics clinic in northwest Washington state. It was the typical mom-and-pop run business with Don's wife, Candace, working at the front desk.
Shortly thereafter, Don was approached by well-known physical therapist Nancy Hylton. Nancy had been fabricating two-part plaster orthoses that allowed her to work with patients using the concepts of the Neuro-Developmental Treatment approach to physical therapy -- contending that a stable, full contact base of support allows for more effective physical therapy work at the trunk, head, and upper extremities, and can reduce excess muscle tone.
The challenge? Her plaster orthoses were bulky, temporary, and could not be worn by the patient outside of therapy.
She was looking for an Orthotist to build a specific style of ankle foot orthoses (AFOs) for her pediatric patients. Nancy wanted light, durable plastic AFOs that mimicked the support provided by the plaster devices -- AFOs that provided stable foot and ankle alignment but with enough flexibility to allow for natural movement.
Everyone Nancy approached told her it couldn't be done; it wouldn't work. Don was no exception.
But, Nancy persevered -- together she and Don teamed to develop a thin, flexible contoured brace that would eventually become the original DAFO. This original DAFO style is now known as the DAFO 4 -- still one of the most popular brace styles we manufacture.
From these first braces, word began to spread quickly that DAFOs were effective and patient compliance was high. Requests began to arrive from all over the United States and soon Don needed to hire a technician and additional staff to keep up with demand.
Since our modest beginnings, Cascade Dafo continued to grow, relocating twice to larger facilities. Today we are the industry's leading manufacturer of pediatric orthoses, creating effective solutions for patients worldwide.