Yeserday, Steve’s physical therapist Paul brought out a sales rep from the Walk-Aide company to test their device on Steve’s leg for improving his walking ability, which has been hindered by “foot drop”. Foot drop is a condition caused by weakness or paralysis of the muscles involved in lifting the front part of the foot, which causes a person to drag the toe of the shoe on the ground or slap the foot on the floor. (This is why Steve wears the anke-foot orthosis (AFO brace) to help keep his foot from dropping).
Through electrical stimulation to the nerves, the Walk-Aide can help the muscles in the leg respond to impulses sent to it. The battery operated electrical stimulator is attached to the peroneal nerve, which controls movement in the ankle and foot. But this nerve in Steve was located up higher behind the knee instead of closer to the calf where it is in most people. As a result, that area was very sensitive to the electric stimulation sent to it. The rep turned up the impulses to the highest level to get the response out of the leg, and Steve said he felt like bacon sizzling in a frying pan. It was not a pleasant experience, but it did work. However, today his leg felt weaker than it did before so he doesn’t want to try that again.
We are open to trying new therapies and the technology is so wonderful for these devices, but this one didn’t work well on Steve because his nerve was not located in the most beneficial place.