*Refers to a weakening of the muscles that allow one to flex the ankle and toes
*Results in the dragging of the front of the foot
*Can lead to trips and falls
Drop foot is a condition affecting your ability to lift your foot when walking, increasing the likelihood of trips and falls from catching your foot on the floor which can lead to more serious injuries and compromise your independence.
The condition can be brought on as a result of damage or injury to the brain, spinal cord or nerves in the leg and result from any of the following:
*Spinal Muscular Atrophy
*Nerve damage in the knee
There are some cases where people are able to fully recover from drop foot, though is typically dependent on the root cause of the condition. Where the condition occurs following an injury then therapy can offer a real solution to managing the condition, though where neurological conditions are the root cause then the chances of a full recovery are reduced.
The objective of a therapist is in building strength in the affected foot so that you may regain control and lift your foot independently without the need for an orthosis and without fear of falling over.
A tailored training programme will normally be offered to give you the best possible chance of some functionality and control returning to the foot and will normally be undertaken in conjunction with the use of an orthosis.
Ankle Foot Orthosis
There are a variety of orthosis products on the market to help in the management of drop foot and whilst they are all designed to do the same thing it is down to personal preference.
Products like the Foot-Up work by connecting the ankle and the foot via a soft support which prevents the foot from dropping beyond a 90 degrees angle and minimise the risk of tripping when walking.
Other options include the Prolite AFO which is a rigid ‘L’ shaped plastic insert which sits on the calf and beneath the foot which effectively prevents the foot from dropping.
Typically patients will try a multitude of products before finding the right one for them. There are loads of videos on YouTube highlighting the benefits of an orthosis.
Electrical stimulation Devices
This works through the placement of electrodes on selective nerves and muscles which can be invasive as well as non-invasive.
These are then connected to a portable power supply which is activated via a sensor in the shoe stimulating the nerves and contracting the muscles in the foot to aid mobility.
If you suspect that you are suffering from drop foot then you should seek a professional diagnosis so that treatment can begin and you can minimise the risk of the condition deteriorating.
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