Throughout her childhood, Heather fell often, was clumsy, had lower leg and ankle weakness, and foot drop. These symptoms were overlooked, and she was never given an official diagnosis. It wasn’t until she was in her 30’s that she was told she had a hereditary neuromuscular disease called Charcot Marie Tooth Disease. At that point, the atrophy (when muscles waste away due to lack of physical activity) was so progressed that she was finding it very difficult to walk and was falling often.
Since she has muscle atrophy, it takes more effort to complete basic daily tasks. Not only that, but she fatigues very easily and has a lot of limitations as a result. She must constantly adjust and there are days when she can’t push her body anymore and must rest. For a long time, she avoided walking as much as possible and when she did, she did so very carefully and would frequently look down to see where she was going and if there were any dangers, such as a slight variation in the sidewalk. She tried to find shoes that would support her ankles better.
“I will never forget when my orthotist had me try on Allard Toe-Offs. He told me to take a walk around and then asked me how it felt. It was shocking to me how much better I could walk. With a progressive neuromuscular disease, you gradually yet progressively lose the ability to do things. It was no longer safe for me to walk, I was falling so much. I stopped purchasing certain products that I needed in the grocery store simply to avoid walking to the other end of the store. It was too tiring to walk. With my Allard AFOs, I now feel more confident and safe when walking. I am able to walk faster without worrying that I’ll fall or trip any second. It’s not as tiring to walk. It’s life changing for me to be able to have some ability to walk when I’ve lost so much function.”