Thursday, August 16, 2012

The skinney on the WalkAide

My World
Talk about beautiful! How can I not enjoy this every morning or just everyday! I live in beautiful upstate New York where the vistas are  breathtaking and just so lovely. Now would you not want to take a walk or a hike out there? Now you see my dilemma.

It is crazy that most of us with MS have walking issues of one kind and another. Although I will tell you just feeling healthy has become pretty important in my life as I continue to maintain myself through the Swank diet, vitamins and low dose Naltrexone and nothing else. So far almost five years of healthful living.

One day as I did my usual research on the internet -- by the way, be careful what you read. Look for reputable sites and trustworthy information, not Joe so and so discussing their version of the latest miracle. Anyway, I had heard of Hanger Orthotics and all their work with prosthetics. Quite amazing really. Our niece works for the company as I later found out. So, I pursued my search and finally ended up at the site for the WalkAide. It so happens that we have a local facility nearby that fits persons with various disorders for the WalkAide and other prosthetics. The unique quality is that these devices are neuro-electric and work with stimulating nerves to evoke responses. When I went to see what this was all about, they put a device on my left leg with foot drop to see if the peripheral nerve would respond to lifting my foot. As those of you with foot drop know all too well, this foot lifting is an impossibility. So, the peripheral nervous system -- or the "other" nervous system, not the central nervous system was intact and therefor the WalkAide "might" work for me. Let me tell you, my heart was in my throat as I sat and watched my left foot twitch, something it had not done in about a decade. I had been wearing that horrible "cast" style ankle foot orthosis for six years. My skinny little leg had atrophied over the years and my circulation was non existent as the technician and a few others stood around to view this spectacle!

I was indeed a candidate for this wonderful device that cost close to $5,000! I was not going to think about that just yet. Finally I was fitted and a long time was spent "calibrating" the device to my specific gait.

There are a few things I learned along the way:

*The WalkAide is only a tool, not the answer. In other words, it works with you and for you but it will not bring back the old walk. If you have spasticity in the limb you are re-training to walk, just know that spasticity  will work against you. Try bending your leg or limb as much as you can so the device can work better.

*Slow..slow...slow, please do not think you will run or walk a pace that your walking partner is maintaining. If you move yourself too quickly and the stimulus has not kicked in yet, your foot is in neutral, just like a car. There is always a "wait" period. The device has a tilt sensor and works but don't challenge yourself or it by not paying attention to the impediments in front of you, like rocks and such.

*Ladies, you might be regaining your beautiful (once beautiful) legs back but please DO NOT use a razor to shave the leg in question. If you put the WalkAide electrodes over irritated skin like I did, you may have scarred your legs for life. Not to mention chance for infection, keeping the WalkAide off your leg for healing, etc.

My WalkAide
Tomorrow, a little more on how I funded my WalkAide and how I use it. Hope this was helpful to those of you thinking about this option -- yes, I recommend it!

No comments: