March 6, 2009

AFO

Posted in multiple sclerosis at 6:41 am by melissasummers

Since my last neuro appointment, I had been anxiously awaiting the arrival of my new AFO brace to aid my walking ability.

The first step was to have an appointment at a medical supply supply facility that provides orthotics.  Luckily there was such a place just down the road from where I work.  At the appointment my gait was observed..I always have trouble having my “natural gait” show when I know that people are watching me walk.  Then I was place in a cast from my toes to my knee, the cast would be used to mold my brace.  Once the cast was cured and removed I was told the brace would be in and ready in about two weeks.   Two weeks.. I have been so spoiled by working in the medical field that I am not used to waiting for things!

Two weeks pass by and then I recieve the call that the brace is ready for me to be fitted.  I am more than ready as my ankle just aches from struggling with the weakness.  The brace is a hinged brace to allow my foot to flex upwards but prevents it from pointing down towards the floor.  The bottom section starts off thin from just below my toes, the brace thickens as it covers and cups my heel.  The leg section runs from my ankle and up the back of my calf almost to the back of my knee.  Just below my knee at the top of the brace there is one velco strap.  The hinges connecting the two pieces lies at my ankle joint.  At the fitting the girl explained that I needed to pay attention to where the brace may be rubbing, andn to discontinue use if anything gets painful or if any blisters develop.  Because my ankles are very bony and prominant, I may have difficulty with it rubbing on them.  I was instructed to wear the brace just for a few hours, increasing the time each day.  I headed back to work with the brace in place.  It didn’t take long before it had to be removed!  My work shoes were not designed for a brace..my foot felt crammed and my toes were going asleep.  I traded my work shoes for my regular shoes which was a better fit but I still was not comfortable. 

The next day I braced myself up to test it out on a walk with the dog.  It was during a short walk that I realized this was not going to work for me.  My ankle felt as if it was trying to escape from the brace and was rubbing viciously on the brace joints.  My heel was shifting around in the heel “cup” like I had on loose shoes.  An adjustment was in order.

So on Monday I headed back to the medical company.  I felt like there was going to be nothing they could do to make this comfortable for me.  The brace was uncomfortable, painful and clumsy.  They fitted it up with a thicker brace padding ove the hinges and placed it back on my leg.  It still shifted on my heel some, but I was willing to give that change a try.  To my surprise, I was able to finish out the work day without having to remove the brace, the new padding worked!

With the brace on and as I became familiar with how it felt, I noticed my gait was becoming smoother.  I did not have to lean to my left to give my right foot clearance of the floor to take a step.  In fact, I do not even think that I had a limp or a staggering step.  For the first time in two years….walking almost felt easy and normal.

So the excitment has returned.  The MS walk is in May, and this may the first year since I lost my right leg two years ago that I will not be using my cane!

After using the brace now for a few days after the adjustment, I am now able to wear it for the duration of my work day.  Honestly, it is hard on my foot as there is no cushion, but my gait is almost perfect.

bracesm1

 

braceclosedsm

 

Here is the brace closed, my foot is unable to flex down towards the floor.

braceopensm

 

Here is how the brace looks when I take a step forward.  My ankle is allowed to bend in the direction needed to walk.

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