Versatile FES Technology for
Walking with Confidence
Improving Walking Ability
in Children Adults with
a Neurological Disability
Clinical Excellence & Expertise in
providing Functional Electrical
Odstock technology can help in any or all of the following situations:
1. When there is muscle weakness in one or both legs – weakness at the ankle makes lifting the foot difficult – the foot drops and drags on the ground. Additionally, hip weakness makes the leg feel heavy and difficult to move. Walking is fatiguing due to the high energy demands of moving the legs. Walking is also slow and there is a possibility of falling due to leg weakness and catching the foot on the ground while walking.
With these symptoms, an Odstock dropped foot stimulator can help — by stimulating the common peroneal nerve in the leg, the foot lifts during stepping and foot drop is corrected.
Hip weakness can also be addressed – by varying the position of the stimulating electrodes it is possible to induce movement concurrently at the hip, knee and ankle which helps to lift and move the leg forward overcoming weakness at the hip, knee and ankle. The overall benefits that one can expect include improved walking speed and increased walking safety due to a more efficient gait pattern.
Range of walking (distance) can also be increased because there is less muscle fatigue. If weakness affects only one leg (unilateral weakness) a single channel stimulator may only be required. If weakness affects both legs (bilateral weakness) a 2 channel dropped foot stimulator is generally best.
2. When there are leg spasms or spasticity (increased muscle tone in one or both legs). The leg muscles feel stiff, resulting in limited walking. It is difficult to bend the hip, knee and ankle to take an adequate step. Walking feels inefficient even though the muscles in the legs may be quite strong and there is no obvious foot drop.
With this physical presentation, a dropped foot stimulator can help – Stimulation reduces the “extensor” tone (tightness that makes it hard to bend the leg) and makes lifting the legs and taking steps easier. Benefits include improvement in walking speed and ability to walk longer distances. A 2 channel stimulator is often prescribed as the extensor spasticity generally affects both legs.
3. When there is ataxia (decreased walking co-ordination ) and co-ordination of the muscles responsible for walking is difficult. The normal “heel-toe” gait pattern is difficult to maintain. Walking any distance is difficult. The ataxia in particular affects outdoor walking and makes it hard to maintain a normal level of activity such as going to the mall or to outdoor events.
While FES does not address the cause and symptoms of ataxia directly, nevertheless, a dropped foot stimulator provides benefit that can reduce the effect of the ataxia. Stimulation of the ankle muscles as the foot is lifted “pre-positions” the foot for stepping and bearing weight. Restoring the normal heel-toe pattern and improving the trajectory of the foot during walking makes the overall walking pattern more efficient and can reduce fatigue associated with decreased co-ordination. Correcting the heel- toe gait pattern with a stimulator on one side can have an overall beneficial effect on walking.
4. When overall walking endurance is reduced and outdoor walking especially is difficult: Although the leg muscles may show close to normal strength and physical endurance is relatively good, walking over longer distances is a challenge. Foot- drop develops with distance walked. Consequently it becomes necessary to limit walking to what can be managed before fatigue and foot drag become a problem.
A dropped foot stimulator can be worn for outdoor walking to lessen the effect of dropped foot that develops with fatigue. The stimulator can be turned on when needed. Stimulation improves foot lift and the overall gait pattern, making it easier to manage outdoor terrain – inclines, grass, gravel, curbs and concrete. Wearing a stimulator for outdoor walking can increase the user’s walking range and allow a more normal daily routine for shopping needs and recreational walks. It may help to preserve a more active lifestyle and reduce anxiety associated with outdoor mobility.