Drop Foot is a condition that impacts an individual’s ability to raise the front part of their foot and toes because there is a weakness of ankle dorsiflexion or a paralysis of the muscles. A patient suffering from the condition can see their quality of life majorly impacted as a result. Drop foot causes patients to drag their foot behind them as they walk or they compensate by lifting their knee higher – this can lead to patients stumbling, tripping and ultimately injuring themselves.
In the vast majority of cases, drop foot 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 spinal damage, a brain disorder or by muscular or nerve damage.
Common causes include:
Unfortunately, recent studies have shown that the condition can often go untreated as some patients 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. If the condition is more pronounced, medical therapy and surgery options do exist. Research by OCR International revealed that 99% of adults in the USA suffering from the condition 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 and 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. In cases 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.
In general, 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 main 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. However, they do have their limitations, in that they can be quite rigid on the ankle, have a poor energy store and do not assist gait to the same levels as Dynamic response AFOs.
At Trulife, we have extensive expertise along with years of experience in designing and developing lower extremity orthotic products and we have a solution for drop foot that has proven extremely popular with patients and practitioners.
The Matrix Range is constructed from a carbon and glass fiber composite that provides an extremely comfortable drop foot solution. The range is lightweight making it easy for the patient to adapt to and very simple 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 moves 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.
Ben is a teenager who has cerebral palsy; he suffers from a weakness on one side of his body. He also has a shorter right leg. He uses a Matrix AFO which helps him to take part in sports and enjoy being an active teenage boy. Ben also plays on a cerebral palsy football team. “I feel more confident when wearing the Matrix because I know it will help me. It is springy so it helps me run and jump.”
Joan is a retired farmer’s wife who was diagnosed with foot drop. An inability to properly control her left leg resulted in continuous trips and falls, which impacted on her lifestyle in many ways. Using a Matrix AFO has made a huge difference to her life. “Since I had the Matrix, it’s made a lot of difference to my life. I can drive so that means I can go out. I can go out with more confidence!”
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 allowing a smooth transition from heel to toe.
Each product in the Matrix Range carefully helps control the position and motion of the ankle correcting its movement by providing support to compensate for any weakness. Our engineers have also designed the range with patient comfort in mind and have included extra padding to improve the experience of the wearer – 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.
Given that the Matrix range caters for adults, and drop foot can also occur in adolescents, we have also developed Child’s Play AFO foot drop solution as part of the range which feature 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.
If you would like more information on any of the above, please contact us.
Do you have a question about our products or services? Our dedicated staff is always here to help. Get in touch and we will revert to you as soon as possible. Thank you.
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