Saturday, April 9, 2011

FOOT DROP DEVICE UPDATE

OK, so now I've tried both of the electronic devices, the Walk-Aide and the Bioness L300.                                                                                                                                                     
Bioness L300
The Bioness rep met me and I was able to try on and use the L300 unit for an hour or so.  She took lots of time to get me tuned up right and I went away with an inner cuff marked for the correct placement of the electrodes.  The Bioness has a sensor that goes in the heel of your shoe, a device with the electrodes that straps under your knee and a hand control about the size of a ceiling fan control--pretty small.                                                                                                                                                 
This worked really well on me but I wanted to try the Walk-Aide too because you don't have to wear shoes, it's all self contained in one unit that velcros under your knee and it uses just regular batteries.
Walk-Aide
Next stop was at the prosthetic company that made my AFO.  Another wonderful PT spent a couple of hours with me so I could try the Walk-Aide, which unfortunately did not work as well for me, darn it!  It senses the angle of your lower leg and it may be that it is being deceived by  the subluxation of that knee due to missing cartiledge.                                                                                                                                                                                      
The Bioness, with its heel plate sensor is more reliable for me--detecting when my heel is off the ground and sending me the stimulation that tells the muscle on the front of the calf to pull up my foot. (I tried to look this up but Gray's Anatomy boggles me so hope my layman's explanation works for you.) If you have foot drop, you'll know what I mean.                                                                                                          
I know you are all wondering how zappy the zaps are.  Well, not bad...not really painful,  but startling at first.  I'm told you get used to it and I'm concentrating so hard when I walk anyway, that it almost doesn't matter.  I do have one online friend who uses a Bioness and she said she definitely did get used to it and is happy with hers.                                                                                                                                                                                                  
I'm still unbalanced, so I doubt I'll be able to get rid of my cane, but I think with some physical therapy help I'll be able to quit swinging my whole leg out to the side and walk more normally.                                                                                                                                   
Why swing my leg out to the side?  It's instinctive--if I keep my leg stiff, and swing it out, I can avoid catching my foot on the floor, therefore stumbling and possibly falling. It's exhausting, though, so any of the devices that are successful in keeping the foot up will reduce fatigue and increase mobility considerably.                                                                                                                      
Some insurance pays for these devices. Medicare does not. If you're in the no-insurance boat, ask about the cash up front price, financing plans, and if they have any rehabbed units for sale. Also check into the NMSS $500 assist, sometimes matched by the manufacturer for a total of $1,000 in financial aid.                                                                                                                                
More to be revealed when I get my device!

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