Among stroke survivors and patients suffering from other neurological or muscular disorders, one common difficulty they face is foot drop, a partial leg paralysis that prevents the foot from lifting. Foot drop causes instability and difficulty walking. Now, Rush University Medical Center is offering a high-tech device to help brain injury patients regain the ability to walk more naturally and improve mobility.
"Foot drop is a condition where the muscles in the foot are too weak to properly lift the foot, heel and toes while walking," says James Young, MD, medical director of physical medicine and rehabilitation at Rush. "It is often present in patients who have suffered a stroke, traumatic brain injury, incomplete spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis and cerebral palsy."
The unique, lightweight device is a noninvasive, wireless leg brace worn on the lower leg. Small sensors placed by the heel of the foot detect whether the patient's foot is in the air or on the ground.
Electrodes transmit painless electronic stimulation to the peroneal nerve to activate the calf muscle and correct a patient's gait. When weight is taken off the patient's foot, the brace sends a signal to contract muscles inside the calf allowing the foot to swing forward.
The device has proved beneficial not only in patient who recently suffered traumatic brain injuries, but also patients who have suffered from several years of immobility or from strokes several years ago.
"The device has helped our patients retrain and regain control of their bodies and achieve greater mobility and independence," says Young. "We have seen vast improvements in patients such as walking coordination, speed and blood flow and a decrease in the effort required during walking while wearing the device."
The new device is offered on an inpatient and outpatient basis at Rush. The medical center also offers a similar device for rehabilitation of arm movement.
More Information at Your Fingertips:
- For more information about stroke and stroke rehabilitative services at Rush visit our Stroke and Cerebral Vascular Disease home page.
- Looking for a doctor? Call toll free: 888 352-RUSH (7874)
Please note: All physicians featured in Discover Rush Online are on the medical faculty of Rush University Medical Center. Some of the physicians featured are in private practice and, as independent practitioners, are not agents or employees of Rush University Medical Center.
If you enjoyed this article and are not already a subscriber, subscribe today to Discover Rush Online. You'll receive health information, breaking medical news and helpful tips for maintaining your health each month via e-mail.