Foot drop is appropriately named after the literal dropping of the front of the foot due to weakness, paralysis in the back of the lower leg or damage to the peroneal nerve. People suffering from foot drop have to adapt their stride to compensate for the inability to lift the front of their foot sufficiently. They may drag their toes along the ground; bend their knee higher than normal so that their toes clear the ground adequately without having to lift the front of the foot, swing the handicapped foot to the side or walk on the toes of their unaffected foot. Foot drop can stem from a variety of challenges, frequently the root of the problem is a neurological disorder but it can also be linked to anatomic and muscular issues. Foot drop has been known to occur in congruence with diabetes, dorsiflexor injuries, neuropathies, peripheral nerve injuries and stroke.
The treatment recommended for foot drop patients depends on the severity of the weakness or paralysis and it’s cause. Surgical and non-surgical treatments can be implemented including spinal fusion, vertebroplasty, kphosplasty, physical therapy, epidural injections, anti-inflammatory medications, orthoses and electrical stimulation devices. When the underlying cause of the foot drop is treatable that avenue is always pursued first. Stroke andmultiple sclerosis patients on the other hand often utilize an orthoses brace or electrical stimulation device to manage the foot drop.
Electrical stimulation is a cutting edge non-surgical treatment option that is quickly growing in popularity due to the improved mobility, small size and rehabilitative properties as well as overcoming many of the common shortcomings of an AFO (ankle-foot orthoses) brace. The small electrical device straps around the leg under the knee and not only is it less noticeable than an AFO but it doesn’t require the patient to wear a larger shoe on the foot receiving treatment. The small size also makes it easier to wear fitted pants and taking the device on and off is quick and easy. The comfortable design of the electrical device has fewer points of contact and is far less likely than an AFO brace to become uncomfortable after wearing it for long periods of time. Finally the light design means that you don’t have to expend extra energy lugging around heavy “equipment”.
The NESS L300 by Bioness is a leading electrical stimulation device that has been approved for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The system has a small wireless heal sensor, hand held remote and stimulation cuff. The heal sensor or “gait sensor” located at the foot detects changes in speed, and terrain and communicates the information to the stimulation cuff that then stimulates the nerves that control the muscles that drive the motion of the front of the foot. The system works together to overcome muscle weakness and paralysis in the front of the foot to normalize your stride so you can walk confidently again. Studies have shown that when patients use electrical stimulation devices like the Bioness NESS L300 they benefit from improved circulation, balance, speed and comfort.