Drop Foot is a condition that affects a person’s ability to raise the front part of the foot and toes because there is a weakness of ankle dorsiflexion or a paralysis of the muscles. It can have a major impact on the quality of life for a patient suffering from the condition. Drop foot causes patients to drag their foot behind them as they walk or compensate by lifting their knee higher – this can lead to patients tripping and hurting themselves.
Drop foot usually only affects one foot, but it is possible for both to be affected. It is often a sign of an underlying problem and can be caused by a brain disorder or spinal damage or by muscular or nerve damage.
Common causes include:
Unfortunately, studies have shown that often the condition can go untreated with patients because they never seek a proper diagnosis or explore the various treatment options open to them, despite the fact that help is available and can be effective – from standard/thermoplastic AFOs such as the Trulife Sure Step Lite AFO to Dynamic AFOs like the Trulife Matrix Range. Medical therapy and surgical options are available when the condition is more pronounced. OCR International’s research revealed that 99% of adults in the USA do not currently wear an AFO to help them walk normally. AFOs can greatly improve a patient’s quality of life.
Treatment will depend on the cause of the condition. There are several options available to patients, such as:
The most common approach to tackling drop foot is to wear a standard ankle-foot orthosis. Physiotherapy and exercise can help strengthen the muscles in the lower leg and ankle and improve a patient’s gait over time. Nerve stimulation is possible by electrically stimulating the peroneal nerve during footfall to help raise the foot. Where patients have permanent loss of the ability to move the foot, surgery may be needed but this is generally only in severe cases.
The goal of any treatment plan is to help the patient achieve a regular gait cycle.
Generally speaking, bracing with an ankle foot orthosis is helpful in all cases of drop foot and allows a patient to move more freely. AFOs help control the position and motion of the ankle, correcting its function by providing support to compensate for any weakness.
The primary purpose of an AFO is to provide increased dorsiflexion during the swing phase of the gait cycle and to increase the stability of the patient during stance. This gives greater levels of comfort and safety for the user.
Standard/Thermoplastic AFOs are the most common form of treatment for drop foot that we see being used today. They do, however, have their limitations in that they can be quite rigid on the ankle, have poor energy storage and do not assist your gait to the same levels as Dynamic response AFOs.
Trulife has extensive expertise in designing and developing lower extremity orthotic products and we have a solution for drop foot that continues to prove extremely popular with patients and practitioners.
Our Matrix Range of products are constructed from a carbon and glass fiber composite that provides a very comfortable drop foot solution. The full range is extremely lightweight making it much easier to adapt to and that is hassle-free to use. The Matrix range provides a smooth transition from heel strike to toe-off and can significantly improve a patient’s gait, allowing them to load the device upon heel strike, resulting in an efficient spring energy return that propels the foot. The range is also built to last and is very durable.
The Matrix Range allows the clinician the ultimate in clinical choice; all activity levels and conditions are catered for. The Matrix range of products is made in a variety of standard sizes that are both trimmable and adjustable.
The Matrix range has a dynamic response which provides a more stable gait pattern right through the gait cycle. Our engineers have designed Matrix with the correct balance between flexibility and rigidity which allows a smooth transition from heel to toe.
Each product carefully helps control the position and motion of the ankle, correcting its movement by providing support and to compensate for any weakness. We have also designed the range with comfort in mind and have included extra padding – each AFO has two padding kits included.
The range is suited for many conditions including; drop foot/foot drop, limb proprioception deficit, mild proximal deficit, multiple sclerosis, Charcot Marie Tooth (CMT), partial foot amputations, muscular dystrophy, stroke (CVA), cerebral palsy.
Trulife also produces a Child’s Play AFO foot drop solution as part of the range with a height adjustable anterior shell.
The Matrix Range is designed with a lateral strut that is anterior to the malleolus and with an open calcaneal design, offering a more normal gait. Trulife also offers a medial design for patients that have a prominent base of the 5th or who cannot use a lateral strut design.
These features and more make Matrix an outstanding option in the treatment of Drop Foot, with the benefits outweighing those of standard AFOs on a number of levels.
For more information on the Matrix Range, please get in touch with us.
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