New brace helps some with MS keep moving: A hiker's story
February 23, 2017
Difficulty walking is a common problem for people with multiple sclerosis, but a new brace is helping some of our patients get around better -- and more safely.
Foot drop is one of the more common gait problems that people with MS develop. With this condition, the muscles of the foot and ankle do not activate or are slow to respond, putting a person at risk of tripping or catching a foot on the ground and falling.
Drop foot is usually corrected by using a brace called an ankle foot orthosis, or AFO, to pick up the foot.
Another reason a person’s foot might catch is because the lower leg doesn’t flex enough to provide adequate clearance. For a leg to clear the ground, the hip, knee and ankle all need to flex.
The TripleFlex brace
A new brace called the TripleFlex addresses this problem and foot drop. Axiobionics, a Michigan company, developed the brace in March 2014, and it became available in the Northwest last year.
Some of our patients at the Swedish MS Center have given it a try and say it makes a big difference in their mobility and quality of life. It’s helped some patients walk safely at home. Others say the brace allows them to walk longer distances or on different terrain.
For David, this brace has allowed him to continue to do what he loves best – hike. He’s so enthusiastic about the brace that we decided to share his story:
"Hiking has long been a passion of mine. With the worsening of my MS, it has been more difficult for me to hike. Trekking poles and an AFO have been a great help, but the TripleFlex brace has been amazing!
I used it last summer on hikes to Mount St. Helens Volcanic National Monument, the Cascade Range and the Eagle Cap Wilderness in the Wallowa Mountains in Oregon. I wish I had had it for earlier hiking trips to Mount Baker and Olympic National Park.
I am a big fan of my TripleFlex brace for the following reasons:
- It helps greatly with my foot drop and keeps me from catching my toe on rocks and roots, which can lead to a fall.
- It provides lift to my affected leg, which allows me more freedom of movement.
- I can hike longer and farther because the lift and support it provides keep me from fatiguing as quickly.
- It gives me increased stability, which makes me feel more secure on the trail -- particularly on rougher terrain.
Quite simply, the TripleFlex
brace has given me more mobility and has allowed me to continue my outdoor pursuits!”
If you’d like to find out if this brace is right for you or a loved one, we can help. If you’re a current patient, call us at 206-320-2200
to make an appointment. If you’re a new patient, visit our website to learn how to make an appointment.
If this brace or another device has helped you stay on your feet, share your story in our comment section.