A new medical device helps patients with foot drop

By Sheri Falk - bio | email | Twitter

PETAL, MS (WDAM) - In a matter of seconds Heather Parker went from being a active healthy 17-year-old to being partially paralyzed after being thrown from the back of an ATV her friend was driving.

"I hit the pavement and some how the 4-wheeler rolled over and caught my nose with the tire and pulled it all the way off. They had to sew it back on and I had a brain injury which caused me to have a stroke," said Parker.

It was the stroke that caused Heather to lose all mobility on the left side of her body. After 18 days in the hospital she began fighting her bodies resistance to regain mobility in her arm and leg.

"I had a really bad walking pattern and it was really easy for me to trip and almost fall and scare people to death."

She developed a common condition known as "foot drop" which is what prevented her from walking freely. She was given a plastic brace  called an A.F.O. which is made out of  molded plastic. The brace allowed her little mobility, it was fixed in one position all the time.

Rehab at Work Physical Therapist Lillie Gibb says, Heather's progress was at a stand still because she had so much discomfort she didn't wear the brace.

Three months ago Gibb introduced her to a new device called a Bio ness which she says, has three components using wireless communication to stimulate Heather's muscles. She was one of the first patients to try it and according to Gibb it's worked wonders.

"It helped pull her foot up and out," said Gibb. "Moving it out of that traditional sprained position that you see some feet turn into and it was able to detect when she shifted her weight so that when she takes her weight off of the foot it immediately stimulates that muscle and helps pull her toe up and when she puts her foot down it turns off."

Heather said, it is so much easier to walk, "It takes  less effort to get up and walk from here to the other side of the room."

According to Gibb, the majority of her physical therapy is done with the bio ness device now which gives her back some independence.

Heather walks more confidently around her college campus where she is pursuing a degree as a Physical Therapist Assistant.

"After I work for a year, I plan to go back and bridge over to become an Occupational Therapist, where I can help other people that are in my situation and I can actually say I know how you feel, I know it's hard."

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