March 5, 2009

The six-million dollar man

I just finished another physical therapy evaluation, this time to see if I was a candidate for using Bioness instead of an AFO to assist my walking. An AFO is a brace; Bioness is an electronic marvel. The therapists fitted electrodes over two nerves at my knee and in my shoe. The electrodes deliver electical stimulation to my leg muscles as I walk. The therapists ran some tests to determine the proper location and the proper amount of stimulus (I needed a lot). I felt like a puppet—they were pulling the strings and my foot was moving in response. They wanted to see me do some squats and march in place, and then they let me walk.

It was an amazing experience. I've realized for a long time that the AFO supports me, but it also limits and restrains my movement. Without it I was able to move much more freely. I think I was also able to move with a much more natural rhythm and much more quickly than I have been. Quick summary: I liked it.

I have to do one more evaluation to see how I do on stairs with it, and of course I have to get the insurance details settled, but right now I'm hoping that I can work with this device for a while.