WalkAide: Helping You Get a Leg Up on Foot Drop
|WalkAide is a class II, FDA cleared medical device, designed to improve walking ability in people experiencing foot drop caused by upper motor neuron injuries or conditions such as:
Foot Drop or Dropped Foot is a condition caused by weakness or paralysis of the muscles involved in lifting the front part of the foot, which causes a person to drag the toe of the shoe on the ground or slap the foot on the floor.
Foot drop (also known as drop foot) may result from damage to the central nervous system such as stroke, spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury, cerebral palsy and multiple sclerosis. The WalkAide is designed to assist with the ability to lift the foot for those individuals who have suffered an injury to their central nervous system. The WalkAide is not designed to work with people who have damage to the lower motor neurons/peripheral nerves.
WalkAide vs. AFO
Traditionally, foot drop is treated with bracing using an ankle foot orthosis (AFO). The passive treatement offered by AFOs do not promote active use of neuromuscular systems and also limits ankle range of motion. In addition, AFOs can be uncomfortable, bulky, and, if poorly fitted, produce areas of pressure and tissue breakdown. The WalkAide may replace the traditional AFO to re-engage a person’s existing nerve pathways and muscles. Using the WalkAide, in most cases, frees the patient from AFO restrictions.
The recruitment of existing muscles results in reduction of atrophy and walking fatigue – a common side effect of foot bracing. WalkAide users have the freedom to walk with or without footwear, up and down the stairs, and even sidestep.
Advanced Technology; Easy to Use
Invented by a team of researchers at the University of Alberta, WalkAide uses functional electrical stimulation (FES) to restore typical nerve-to-muscle signals in the leg and foot, effectively lifting the foot at the appropriate time. The resulting movement is a smoother, more natural and safer stepping motion. It may allow faster walking for longer distances with less fatigue. In fact, many people who try WalkAide experience immediate and substantial improvement in their walking ability, which increases their mobility, functionality, and overall independence.
A sophisticated medical device, WalkAide uses advanced tilt sensor technology to analyze the movement of your leg. This tilt sensor adjust the timing of stimulation for every step. The system sends electrical signals or stimulation to the peroneal nerve, which controls movement in your ankle and foot. These gentle electrical impulses activate the muscles to raise your foot at the appropriate time during the step cycle.
Although highly-advanced, WalkAide is surprisingly small and easy to use. It consists of a AA battery-operated, single-channel electrical stimulator, two electrodes, and electrode leads. WalkAide is applied directly to the leg — not implanted underneath the skin — which means no surgery is involved. A cuff holds the system comfortably in place, and it can be worn discreetly under most clothing. With the WalkAide’s patented Tilt Sensor technology, most users do not require additional external wiring or remote heel sensors.
WalkAide Provides the Advantages not Found in Typical Foot Drop Treamtents :
- Easy one-handed operation and application
- Small, self-contained unit
- Does not require orthopedic or special shoes
- May be worn barefoot or with slippers
- Minimal contact means minimal discomfort with reduced perspiration
- May improve circulation, reduce atrophy, improve voluntary control and increase joint range of motion
Customized For Individual Walking Pattern
WalkAide is not a one size fits all device. Rather, a specially trained medical professional customizes and fits the WalkAide. Using WalkAnalyst, a multifaceted computer software program, the clinician can tailor WalkAide to an individual’s walking pattern for optimal effectiveness.
Exercise Mode for Home Use
In addition fo walking assistance, the WalkAide system includes a pre-programmable exercise mode that allows a user to exercise his/her muscles while resting for a set period of time as prescribed.