Hanger Orthopedic Group, Inc., headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, has announced the introduction of WalkAide® System for patients suffering from foot drop. Touted as “the first offering in a line of functional electrical stimulation devices” that the company plans to offer, the system is indicated for patients suffering from damage to the upper motor neurons or pathways to the spinal cord (i.e. for peasants: stroke, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, spinal cord damage).
Company explains its product:
Cleared for marketing by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in September 2005, the WalkAide System counters the lack of ankle dorsiflexion in patients who have sustained damage to upper motor neurons or pathways to the spinal cord. The system allows a qualified clinician to analyze the patient’s leg and foot movements, which are identified by a patented sensor technology called an accelerometer and transmitted via a Bluetooth® connection. Once the device is fit on the patient, electrical signals are sent to the peroneal nerve (i.e. the nerve that controls the movement of the ankle and foot), prompting the muscles to raise the foot at the appropriate time and allow the patient to walk more normally. Worn around the leg, just below the knee, the wireless AA battery-operated device is about the size of a deck of cards.
“More than an exciting new product, the WalkAide System incorporates a clinical team, extensively-trained to work with patients of all neuromuscular conditions,” Hanger President and COO Tom Kirk said. “WalkAide patients can be confident they have a qualified rehabilitation partner who will work to achieve the best possible outcomes.”
In addition to improving the patient’s gait, medical benefits of the WalkAide System are increased mobility, strength, and endurance; decreased energy expenditure; prevention, retardation, and/or reversal of muscle atrophy; and maintained or increased joint range of motion. Further benefits may include reduced incidence of injury, increased circulation, muscle re-education, maintained or increased bone density, and strengthened damaged central nervous system pathways and muscle/spinal circuits.