Drop Foot And The FES
It’s now August 2015, time to think about my drop foot and the FES ; I have been using a Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) to help me walk since December 2014 that is 9 months. It is a dual channel FES. I cannot lift the toes or front of my left foot off the ground. I cannot left my left leg from the hip, a result of multiple sclerosis. Without a walking aid I would be wheelchair bound or have to use crutches. To my mind this would not be a good quality of life.
A bit of history
In about 2003 I noticed that I was wearing out the front of the sole of my left shoe very rapidly. Its only when I started to fall over that I realized something needed to be done. At first I was given an elastic arrangement between my ankle and foot but this was not really up to the job. I soon abandoned that and started to use a walking stick. The big idea was that it would help me to lift my left foot off the ground and stop me falling over.
In about 2007 the wife was surfing the internet and found something called a MuSmate. It is a pair of braces that is attached to a piece of elastic that goes from the hip to the shoe. As you take a step forward the elastic attached to the rear foot stretches. When you come to move that foot forwards the elastic lifts the foot off the ground.
The MuSmate is a very simple but effective device. It helped me enormously I was also fitted with an AFO (Ankel foot orthosis) to help with the foot drop but I never found it very compfortable
My consultant suggested a FES
Eventually I reached the top of the waiting list and a single channel FES was fitted. Good bye MuSmate, good bye AFO. I was now walking with a much more natural gait looking so much happier and feeling so much better.
No more falls
The biggest change, the number of times I fall over. It has dropped from a few times a week to maybe once a month. My sense of balance has not undergone a miraculous recovery. Now I was walking with a much better gait.
The FES stimulates muscles used for walking. If I did not have leg drop or a hyper extending knee then everything would be hunky dory. So yes the FES is a complete success.
There is no such thing as a free dinner. At night it takes me about 20 minutes to take off the electrodes, stumble through to the bathroom, wash them and store them on a piece of plastic. Likewise in the morning it does take me about 20 minutes to setup the FES. This is a minor irritation when I look at the improvement to my quality of my life the FES has given me.
I live in Northern Ireland and we cannot get this device in the nhs here there is nothing here to help with drop foot I know many people that this device might helput they know nothing about it only what I talk to them I think they wasting to c if it works on me
I think that is disgraceful. It might be worth talking to the UK MS Society or the MS Trust. Also contact Odstock https://www.odstockmedical.com/about-fes who supply the FES to the NHS and there might be private suppliers in Northern Island but do not be surprised by the price.
Take a look at the Musmate, not very pretty but it does the job. For reasons too lengthy and complicated to explain I must use a both a Musmate and a FES