Walking aids for HSPers
Catching the toes or tripping while walking are two of the earliest and most noticeable signs of HSP for many with the condition. There is a class of devices called Ankle Foot Orthoses – AFOs for short — that can help some HSPers walk better.
They won’t be suited to everyone for reasons relating to HSP progression or perhaps bio-mechanical factors. Talk with your neurologist and/or physiotherapist about the potential for an AFO to help in your particular case. Podiatrists and orthotists are allied health professionals who also have a role to play regarding AFOs.
A new AFO on the market from Allard has created considerable interest in the HSP community in the USA. Here are some of their comments:
“I call them my bionic legs. When I am wearing them, I feel so much more balanced, and standing taller”.
“…while this is the first AFO I have had and it is the Blue Rocker from Allard. I have been very happy with it even though I am not happy with the fact that I have to wear one!”
“Those are made by the same company as the toe-offs, Allard. My neurologist & therapist in the same office suggested I get them … My overall quality of life has improved wearing one!”
“They are made with carbon. Instead of cupping around the heel, the plate you stand on goes up on the outside or your ankle. It has what kinda looks like a soccer shin-protector that straps around your leg, so it’s attached on the front of you leg, rather than the rear. There is a nice padded area there, so there isn’t any rubbing on the skin.”
The AFOs come in different sizes, including a toddler AFO, and models for different levels of stability. The Australian distributors for the product are:
Orthopaedic Appliances Pty Ltd
55 Tinning St
Brunswick Victoria 3065
Ph: 03 9383 1622
E-mail: [email protected]
I have just started to wear AFO’s and they are very similiar to these from Allard. They help me stabilise my gait quite a lot and I don’t feel as fatigued. However, my knees do seem to snap back into hyperextension in a more pronounced way. Overall I do think they will be beneficial.
I am on my second set of Blue Rockers. I wear them on both legs. I am happy with them. Some helpful hints: Order the comfort kit for more padding on the shin. When the Velcro straps wear out, I just ordered a 2 inch velcro strap roll from Amazon, much less expensive. The 2 inch size works on both upper and lower spots.