Tuesday, March 29, 2011

FENDING OFF FOOT DROP (updated 3/31/11)

I'm always looking for things that keep me mobil. Right now I have two devices that help me deal with the foot drop that appeared a few years ago. For those of you who don't know what this is, it seems to have something to do with the nerves not firing the muscles that bend your foot upwards from the ankle. So your toes drag, catching on the carpet and anything else other than a slick bare floor.  And that's only provided you are wearing socks, because bare feet catch on a bare floor, surprise, surprise.                                                                                                                       
The first thing I got was an expensive, paid-for-by-insurance thing called an AFO that was molded to my very own foot and calf. It has a hinge at the ankle and heavy rubber straps that hold my foot up in a normal position so it doesn't drag. It was a huge relief when I first got it because I could stop swinging my leg out to the side to keep my foot up high enough to keep my foot safe. It costs over $800 but my part of it was about $80.
My shoe slips right over it once I take out the insole. It looks horrible here but it doesn't show under pants. If I'm really worried about that, I put another, thinner sock over the whole works before putting on my shoe.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I do have to loosen the strap at the top of the calf in order to drive my car.  Not impossible, but annoying. 

 A cousin alerted me to a bungee-cord device that hooks into the eyelets of your shoes and pulls up the toes.  It had been invented by a fellow who was a runner and had developed foot drop.  A little hard to track down but I finally did and oh boy, that was so much better. It's called a Dorsiflexion Assist.  I believe it was about $80.                                                                                                                                                           

It has a soft pad inside which cushions completely, and it velcro's around your ankle. Three different length rubber bungees are included. You don't have to cris-cross when you attach--that's just for extra lift. 

I had d-ring eyelets installed on all my non-lace right shoes so I can wear this with anythingAgain, when I'm standing up, the pants cover the whole thing pretty well. I'm still tinkering with where to put the d-rings on non-lace shoes to get the maximum lift.  This is an example of d-rings that are too high on my foot.  The eyelets on the red boots are lower and that's noticeably more effective.
I've also looked into something called a Walk-Aide. 
 It velcros around your calf just under the knee and stimulates your muscles to lift your foot from the ankle. It does seem to work--though I don't know yet if you feel an electric shock of any kind.  Here's the link to a newscast:  
http://www.nbcconnecticut.com/on-air/as-seen-on/High-Tech_Device_Helps_Man_Do_MS_Walk_Hartford.html (sorry about the annoying ad,)         
and here's the link to the manufacturer:  http://www.walkaide.com
If you click on News, there are a number of videos to watch. Look for the links down in the body of the story.                                                                                                
I made a few phone calls and then let it go when I got an appointment for venoplasty for CCSVI.  Since that hasn't improved my foot drop, I am now pursuing the needed Rx so I can try this.  Getting it should be a piece of cake compared to obtaining a scrip for LDN or CCSVI treatment.  Some of you know all too well what I mean.                                                                                                                                                      
UPDATE 3/31/11.  A couple of online friends have emailed me about devices they use--so add these to the list.  I'm hoping to try both the electronic devices in the next 2 weeks:                                                                                                                                                                    
Foot Up:    Simple, elegant and relatively inexpensive. Note the strap that goes from the ankle cuff down under the tongue and laces. This is from the UK but if you google "foot drop devices" or "dorsiflection devices" you'll find similar products on your continent.
Bioness:    another electronic stimulation device


  1. A company called Allard USA (www.allardusa.com) out of New Jersey manufactures an AFO made from carbon fiber and kevlar. It is extremely light weight and can fit into a regular shoe. It does not constrict the foot like the molded plastic AFO. They currently have a woman, Beth Deloria, who is running in one after suffering foot drop after spinal fusion surgery. She is blogging about her adventures at getbackuptoday.blogspot.com. Check her out!

  2. I had heard about a titanium device but hadn't seen it in action--it looks really interesting and I may look into it. My Bioness L300 works but it's not perfect because I have other complicating factors: my being wobbly in general and then there's my poor knee with its lack of cartilage that wobbles just fine all on its own.