Madeline has Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT). As a result, she has had mild foot drop since she was in middle school. She first began experiencing more significant foot drop when she was 16. This was after she dislocated the patella in her right leg for the first time and has since dislocated it a total of 4 times, requiring 2 knee surgeries. With each injury that occurred, her foot drop worsened. She is now 28, and because of her CMT and subsequent injuries, she has no dorsal flexion (lift) in her right foot and can only barely lift her left foot.
Madeline’s foot drop has impacted her lifestyle significantly. She hasn’t been able to run since she was 12. Since college, she has hated walking long distances, as it takes a lot of energy and is uncomfortable for her muscles to work that hard. Before her braces, she would strategically calculate the shortest distance in her head any time she had to walk anywhere, including around her house. She also wouldn’t walk unless it was absolutely necessary, so she never joined her family or friends when they’d go on walks just for fun. A few years ago, she developed a chronic wound on the bottom of her right foot because she can’t distribute equal pressure across the bottom of her foot. As a result, she must see her podiatrist every 2 – 3 weeks for routine care of the wound. This takes a lot of time and co-pay money!
Managing foot drop for Madeline was incredibly difficult before her Allard AFO’s. She tried using soft foot drop devices, but many of them caused more pain. Some put too much pressure on the top of her foot and others left indents and sores on her skin. These devices also didn’t provide any muscular support, so she still grew fatigued after walking short distances. They weren’t strong enough to pull her foot all the way to 90 degrees, so they didn’t stop her from tripping frequently. She walked very carefully, slowly and laboriously everywhere she went.
“After I took my first steps in my AFOs, I sobbed tears of joy. My Allard AFOs have completely changed my level of mobility, enhancing my life in big and small ways.
Since I was a little girl, I didn’t know what it felt like to be able to walk at the same speed as my friends.
Before my AFOs, I would have never, ever gone on a voluntary walk. I’d drive a block to a cafe around the corner, while my friends walked there.
Before my AFOs, I never joined my friends or my partner when they went on hikes to soak up the New England fall.
While I’m very far from graceful or good at it, informal dancing has been one of my favorite pastimes. Before my AFOs, I had to be very careful and calculated about each move, for fear of falling or injuring myself.
As a teacher, I lesson plan all day every Sunday, and I enjoy having tea in the afternoon to break up the work. Before my AFOs, I skipped the tea most days because the energy it took to go prepare the tea was greater than my desire for tea itself.
Now, because of my AFOs, I go on long walks (sometimes 2-3 miles!) almost every day. I can keep up with my friends and family when we’re out and about. I can balance more easily and help with more tasks around the house. I can confidently carry heavy things without fear of tripping or twisting my ankle. I go on hikes with my partner in the crisp fall air, and we can dance the night away together at our favorite dive bar. Now, on Sundays, I happily and easily go fetch some tea from the kitchen whenever I am in the mood. I’ll even volunteer to get up to make tea for others!
My AFOs have completely changed the way I interact with the world. I am proud to wear my AFOs, because they have given me a sense of freedom that I have never known before and I wouldn’t have this freedom without them.”