Going to occupational therapy school in the early 2000s I remember distinctly learning about shoe buttons and recommending them all the time! It's an easy solution for dealing with the complex task of tying shoes, making it easier for so many to keep the same look of the shoes and maintain independence. Something I took for granted was that I could say to a patient "I recommend shoe buttons and you can order them online."
It wasn't until recently someone actually came back to me and said they couldn't find them. Surprised, I went on the hunt and found that they are not on Amazon, a challenge to find on Google and not talked about in writing much. So this blog post will talk about what shoe buttons are, why they are still relevant and where to find them!
What are shoe buttons?
Shoe buttons are a great solution for someone who has difficulty with tying their shoelaces due to limited lower body mobility or limited hand control. Shoe buttons are designed to keep shoelaces in place and will prevent the need to tie shoelaces again.
Simply screw the buttons through the shoelace hole and wrap the lace around the button for extra security and to maintain tightness.
The shoe buttons work well for shoelaces on tennis shoes, dress shoes and even lace up boots. As long as the diameter of the hole for your shoelace fits a standard round athletic lace then the shoe buttons will fit!
Instead of learning one handed shoe tying, try shoe buttons. Once set up, putting the lace on and off the button just takes one finger and can even be done with a reacher. It's definitely hard to envision this just with words. But going here will show you a video of what they are and how they work.
But don't elastic shoelaces do the same thing?
For many that is absolutely true! There is always more than one way to solve a problem. Elastic shoelaces can replace the laces that are in the shoe so that there is give in the lace making it possible to step in and out of them. As long as the laces are adjusted properly and the person is able to use a shoe horn or their finger to get their heel in, it works great!
But in my experience they aren't the best for people using AFOs. Ankle foot orthosis - which are commonly needed after stroke - help support the person by holding the foot and toes up while walking. It order to provide support the AFO needs to be securely held within the shoe. Elastic shoelaces can leave enough give that the AFO isn't as effective. This is a terrible combination because many who have had a stroke also have trouble using one hand. Tying shoes in a traditional way can be nearly impossible.
So shoe buttons for the win! Once setup anyone who can reach to the foot pull up and then over to hook the laces on the button can get their shoe tight and tied.
In addition you'll need a pair of elastic shoelaces that match each pair of shoes and if you like bright colors like me, it might be a challenge to find elastic shoelaces in the color and size that meet the needs of each pair of shoes. Shoe buttons can work in most shoes and you just need the one type - so you can keep the laces that came with the shoes!
So where do I find shoe buttons?
As a big proponent of shoe buttons we definitely had to carry them! AskSAMIE has silver shoe buttons available for half the price of many elastic lace brands. If you have questions about fit or use of shoe buttons just let us know!