I am not sure what you mean by the metal braces; are they old-fashioned kind that people wore like 40 years ago? Or the “toe-off” kind mentioned above. I have the toe-offs, but cannot wear them as my feet hurt too much in them, even with the sole in between I feel like I am walking on cement. I have worn the fitted pastic AFOs for 3 years now & find them comfortable, but do wish I could try the new silicone ones made in England by Dorset company. But insurance doesn’t cover them & they are pricy!
As for feeling, my son has worn the plastic AFOs for 25 years now to walk, as he was born with spina bifida. He has no feeling below the waist at all, & has never had a pressure sore from them. He has actually worn the same pair for the past 10 years now, from ages 16 to 26. Don’t let some doctor talk you into some out-dated clunky braces. BTW both my son & I have handicapped license plates, as we are both the principal drivers of our vehicles. It is much easier than putting the placard out each time we park. I also have a decorative cane, paisley that I still love after 3 years. There are many fancy ones out there now. I wouldn’t leave home without it, makes me feel safe.