My New Orthosis

My new orthosis

My new orthosis

I recently visited Amersham hospital and had a new orthosis fitted, it stops foot drop. Strictly speaking its called an orthotic. By preventing foot drop my knee hyperextension will also stop. That is the theory. and even more interesting, the theory works.

Better balance

Yes, it makes walking easier and I am sure it does improve balance. My ankle does feel more stable and secure so I’m less likely to fall over. I now know my foot will always touch the ground safely and not cause me to fall over. Why can’t everything be this wonderful? Why was this not suggested a couple of years ago?

How does it help?

Technically speaking it is an Ankle Foot Orthosis (AFO), also known as a foot-drop brace. A physiotherapist at the MS Therapy Centre at Halton suggested it to me. So why is it a big help to me? I have two major problems with my left leg.

  1. I can not lift the front of my foot off the ground and keep the heel on the ground.
  2. If I’m standing up or sitting down I cannot lift my left leg off the ground by more than a couple of inches and even that is a big effort

The orthosis stops my foot drop

These two problems have gradually got worse and worse over the last ten years. The AFO gives better control of the ankle and foot and this improves my walking and my balance.

At the moment I use a Musmate to lift my leg off the ground when I am walking and it lifts the front of my foot so I don’t trip over bumps in the pavement. Without the Musmate I can only drag my left foot along the ground, a truly pathetic sight.

The orthosis stops my foot drop. Now for the clever bit, because I no longer have foot drop my knee will not hyper-extend. It gives foot and ankle support and this  helps my balance. I still cannot run or hop but how many men of 59 want to run or hop?

My balance is better, I feel more confident

When I was in the car coming back from the hospital The Wife wanted to know who had suggested that I have an orthotic. I said that it was a physiotherapist at the Wendover MS Therapy Centre who mentioned it 3 months ago. She was amazed that no one else had ever suggested one before. Why wasn’t an orthotic suggested earlier, I think it’s a classic case of thinking that is not joined up.

To summarise

I still need the Musmate to lift my leg. The AFO helps to reduce the foot drop but more importantly it has a significant impact on the hyperextension of my knee The AFO fits over my foot and into the shoe and supports the back of my leg This supports eliminates foot drop and the huper etension of the knee. A real problem is that I now have to have each shoe a different size. Everything to help me maintain my balance is an external mechanical mechanism

Did you know?

Genu recurvatum more commonly known as knee hyperextension. It is a deformity in the knee joint, so that the knee bends backwards. Another interesting fact, this deformity is more common in women. The problem is known to occur in people with muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis and cerebral palsy.

Sept 2013

2 responses to “My New Orthosis”

  1. Holli Strozzo says:

    Will you please send me more info. I have foot drop and hyper knee extension from MS. I recently got a hard plastic brace that helps some with foot drop but exacerbates my locked knee.

    • Hello Holli,

      I’m afraid I do not know of a perfect solution for knee hyperextension. The orthosis was good but I did find it uncomfortable. 18 months ago I was referred for an FES and just recently the physio inserted little wedges under the heel, only about 1/2 cm thick but that really seemed to do the trick Read my articles about the FES or Google Odstock Salisbury. Of the two I would suggest you go down the FES route

      The FES provides a stable platform for walking because the muscles are triggered by the device. It does take a few days to learn exactly where to put the electrodes on the leg in the correct position but it is worth the effort.

      What ever you go for you will need to be referred. Suggest you talk to MS Nurse or someone at a MS Therapy Centre. If you are lucky your consultant might be able to give some advice.

      Good luck,


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