In 2016, Jamie Jazdzyk’s life changed. Jamie, a lifelong athlete with a career in brand strategy, woke up one night and upon trying to stand, fell over. She had lost sensation in her lower legs and couldn’t button her shirt. She soon discovered that she had CIDP (Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy) which is the chronic version of Guillan Barre syndrome.
On a quest to walk and play sports again, she requested her inpatient stay to be at Mary Free Bed in Grand Rapids, MI. “When I got there, I felt like I found my tribe. They didn’t ask me, ‘How do you stay safe?’ They asked ‘What do you want to do?’ I answered, ‘Stand. Walk. Play!” She was outfitted with a pair of Allard AFO’s and for the first time in two years, she was able to walk upright—shoulder back, core tight.
“I believe the AFO’s gave me my dignity back,” she says, “Without them, I couldn’t stand without tripping. I fell regularly. I tripped often from foot drop and areflexia. Without my Allard AFO’s, I didn’t have to focus so much on the mechanics of walking. Prior to getting them, I had to envision, ‘hip, knee, ankle, toe’ for each step. Now, I can listen to the person I’m walking with/standing by. That makes me feel more confident and less aware of my limitations, while remaining safe.”
In 2019, Jamie was featured by ABC News 13 in Grand Rapids, MI, as part of an adaptive skiing program called the Cannonsburg Challenged Ski Association.