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Will a WalkAide help my foot drop?

July 1, 2014

I have had foot drop since I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis more than 15 years ago. This week, I’m trying something new in an attempt to improve my foot drop and gait — a medical device called a WalkAide. I will blog about my experience daily and let y’all know how it goes.

Foot drop is an  interruption of the natural nerve-to-muscle communication between the brain and the leg, which inhibits one’s ability to lift the foot naturally. It can be caused by stroke, incomplete spinal cord or traumatic brain injury, cerebral palsy, or, as in my case, multiple sclerosis. According to a WalkAide marketing brochure, the device “restores this lost communication by sending electrical signals to your peroneal nerve, which controls movement in your ankle and foot.”

BACKGROUND

For the past 10 or so years, I have worn a brace on my affected leg (the right one) to improve my gait. I have had four or five braces in that time. I credit the braces for helping with my foot drop, keeping me from locking out my knee when I walk and generally stabilizing my gait. But  the downside to wearing a brace is that my ankle stays in one position all day, and, as a result, I have lost significant range of movement and strength in that joint.

My right knee isn’t anything to write home about, either. I have had it scoped twice –had torn cartilage removed and a torn meniscus repaired, among other things. I am currently seeing a physical therapist in conjunction with using the WalkAide. She is helping me strengthen my ankle and some of leg muscles, including my hamstring,  that have been weakened by MS.

I expect the WalkAide to improve my foot-drop and gait problems and, at the same time, to allow me to strengthen my ankle and improve its flexibility.

WHAT I’LL DO THIS WEEK

The Walk Aide is a “cuff” that is worn directly below the knee of the affected leg, which in my case is the right leg. It has two modes of operation — training and walking. I will use both modes daily.

I will sit with my right leg dangling from a seat or table for five minutes three times a day while wearing the WalkAide in the training mode.  This mode is designed to “wake up” the peroneal nerve to help it respond as well as possible to the electrical stimulation from the WalkAide. In the walking mode, the device is set to produce an electrical stimulation to the peroneal mode and raise the front part of my foot at a specific point in my gait.

I will wear it daily as much as possible and see how it works in different situations. I will wear it while I am at home. And today, for example, I will wear it on my trip to the grocery store. So that’s the plan. I’ll report back daily to let you know how it goes.

SEND COMMENTS!

Please send me your comments about foot drop and the WalkAide. Have you tried a WalkAide or other similar device? What kind of results did you have? Are you still using it? Any advice?

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10 Responses to “Will a WalkAide help my foot drop?”

  1. Charlotte Bowman Says:

    Wow I want to hear more!

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Like


    • Thanks, Char. This new approach to my walking problems is gonna take some work, but I’m hoping it will be better than the stupid brace. If it works, I will get to wear cute shoes again!

      Like

  2. Betsy Saab Says:

    I’m with Charlotte – keep us posted. Wishing you the best of luck on this!

    Like

  3. Rick Watson Says:

    Wow! This is very promising news Jane. I really hope it works for you.
    My niece has ms though I don’t think it has affected her gait yet. I’m interested to know how this works for you.
    R

    Like


    • Thanks, Rick, for your comment. I hope that your niece’s MS won’t affect her gait. The disease affects everyone differently, so maybe she won’t have this problem!
      THis WalkAide medical device is a new approach to my gait issues, but so far I like it a lot better than wearing a brace. I’m just trying this thing out. Haven’t decided if I’ll buy it yet. Because I am on social security disability, Medicare is my primary insurance. And, of course, Medicare won’t pay for this — it would if I had a spinal cord injury, but not for MS. That’s another issue I plan to blog about. If nothing else, this should give me enough fodder for blogging for some time!

      Like

  4. Concetta Says:

    Simply desire to say your article is as astonishing.

    The clearness in your post is simply great and i could
    assume you’re an expert on this subject. Well with your permission allow me to grab your feed to keep up to date with forthcoming post.
    Thanks a million and please carry on the enjoyable
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    Like

  5. Heidi Says:

    Hi Jane! I have just started the WalkAide process that you wrote about last July….one year into it, how is it going? Are you still using the device?

    Like


    • I can’t read the end of your comment, but the WalkAide is working well. And, spending five minutes at the beginning of each day in the exercise mode has helped increase my range of motion in my right ankle. (If you aren’t using the exercise mode, I would recommend that you begin using it.) The device is still working well, and I haven’t had any problems with it. How is the process going for you?

      Like

      • Heidi Says:

        Hi Jane, thanks for your response. I’m glad you are still using your Walkaide and that it is helping. I also appreciate the tip on exercise mode! I have been pretty regimented about using it, but I was out of town the last two weeks and found I was very bad about using it out of my regular routine. I also did not do any of my physical therapy exercises while I was gone, so I will be interested to see the effects at my next appointment. Enjoy the summer and walk on!!!

        Like


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