New device corrects drop foot syndrome

Drop foot syndrome is often caused by a stroke or other neurological condition and it can make walking extremely difficult, but now a new device is getting feet back in action.

A neuro-prosthesis – the NESS L300 is an electrical stimulator designed to treat and correct drop foot syndrome.

This is Lisa Ray's fifth time walking with the device.

"It feels like you're being shocked and you can feel the shocks going down your leg and then you can feel it controlling the muscles in your feet,” said Lisa.

Born with slight cerebral palsy, with the stimulator turned off Lisa struggles to move her right foot. For all of her life, falling was a constant worry.

“Especially since I’ve had two falls where I've actually knocked my teeth out and injured myself and required stitches and hospitalization from dragging my toe and tripping,” said Lisa.

But a wireless sensor in the heel of her shoe communicates with a cuff around her shin.

“It is actually stimulating the nerves in the muscles and the shin to be able to raise their foot up,” said Brad Kruer, a physical therapist. He also says that patient response is remarkable.

“We’ve had several patients done that have worked their way out of the unit,” said Kruer.

Especially in stroke patients it has brought about speedy recovery.

Patients like Lisa, or people with brain or spinal cord injuries, may never recover using the device.

“[We] work with them four to six weeks to see what benefits they’re going to receive,” explained Kruer.

It can be worn long-term in daily life.

Lisa is a school counselor and has to walk around the school a great deal with the dread her feet may fail, especially on stairs.

Bioness makes a similar stimulation device for the arm and hand.

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