Stopping foot drop

FRESNO, Calif.

It affects the feet and makes every step a struggle. Now, a "shocking" new device can help people stay on their feet and out of wheelchairs.

We walk an average of three to five thousand steps every day! For people like Charles, Linda and Denina, each step is literally a drag.

"I'll start dragging that right foot pretty good," Charles Hebert, a foot drop patient, told Action News.

"It's very frustrating," Linda Neiman, said.

"It's like picking up dead weight," Denina Gilliam, adds.

All three have foot drop. A condition caused by underlying neurological, muscular or anatomical problems that makes it difficult to walk. Methodist Hospital doctor Jenny Lai says it puts patients at risk for nasty falls.

"They're coming in with head injuries or broken hips and that means often times the physician will say, maybe it's time for you to be in a chair," Jenny Lai, MD, a section chief and physical medicine and rehabilitation and the Methodist Hospital in Houston, explained.

Today for the first time these three are trying the Bioness, it straps on the thighs and legs and sends electrical stimulation to muscles and nerves

"The device will help you to lift up your ankle and to move forward," Dr. Lai said.

Linda drags her left foot while she walks; with the Bioness the drag is all but gone.

"When these things are stimulating, I don't feel the tightness in my muscles," Linda said.

Denina and Charles notice a difference too.

"I feel it bending, help bending the knee," Denina said.

"It wasn't like a miracle or anything, but it was easier," Charles said.

Doctor Lai says it can take up to eight sessions for patients to get the best results. While our patients didn't see life-changing results during their first session, they will give it another try.

"I definitely feel it's a plus," Linda said.

Doctor Lai says besides a foot splint or surgery there aren't many other treatments for foot drop. She tells us about 50 percent of private insurance companies cover the Bioness, but Medicare does not.

If you would like more information, please contact:

George Kovacik
Media Relations
The Methodist Hospital System
(832) 667-5844
ggkovacik@tmhs.org

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