It has been about three years since I started using the WalkAide. The first thing I mention to medical professionals is that I take more steps correctly than I do incorrectly. I re-read what I had previously written and basically the improvements are the same. I have no hip and knee pain with continued use of the WalkAide (there have been a few times where I couldn’t use the WalkAide on a daily basis and I almost immediately started to feel pain in my hips and knees). Back pain has been reduced significantly but if I over-do it, I will have pain. Stiffness has been reduced. My gait is better than pre-WalkAide and stability is better but still poor. I believe it continues to boost my energy level but I just don’t notice it – it has become part of my being. And most important, greatly reduced drop foot. I still use a cane and look for every sturdy object to get from here to there when not using a cane or cart.
What has been aggravating is when I sit in a car for a pro-longed period say at least four hours, I get very stiff and the electrodes get dry. Stopping at the gas station to go to the bathroom has been met with great trepidation. Basically, what goes through my mind, are my electrodes going to be dry making the first step excruciating let alone the rest of the steps needed to make it to the bathroom? I tried everything I could think of to keep the electrodes lubricated. Nothing seemed to work. A suggestion was made by a fellow WalkAide user to try the new blue gel electrodes and get the WalkAide re-programmed. I originally tried the new electrodes using my original gray cuff to no avail. I was then fitted with the upgraded cuff, WalkAnalyst and the large (1.875 inch) electrodes. I had tried this cuff in the past but I think I had the wrong size cuff so thought it wouldn’t work for me. Whereas I wish the WalkAnalyst was more streamlined, its design allows for removal and re-placement of the WalkAide/Electrodes almost precisely in the same place every time – a huge anxiety relief. (Removal of the gray cuff was a hassle for me. The electrodes hardly adhered to the cuff. So every time I removed the cuff, the electrodes would almost always peel away from the cuff. The next time I donned the WalkAide, the electrodes were in a new position.). I think the dryness problem is better with the new cuff/electrodes but I haven’t had many opportunities to test my “getting out of the car and walking to the bathroom” stint. At the very least, the endeavor to the bathroom is more tolerable.
I’ve also had other issues that weren’t WalkAide related but kept me from using the WalkAide to its fullest. Since I developed a foot drop, I noticed a build-up of tissue on my pinky toe. I thought I was perpetually breaking my pinky toe due to the fact that I could no longer walk “normally”. It finally got to a point where I could take it no longer. I sought the advice of a podiatrist (and why I didn’t think of this years ago is beyond me). She x-rayed my feet and discovered that I was born with in-grown pinky toes. She debrided my pinky toe and fit me with custom orthotics. I also had been wearing shoes that were too small (I feel for Chinese woman who use to bind their feet). Circulation in my toes was a big problem too. The podiatrist has referred me to a vascular surgeon but since I started wearing larger shoes and the custom orthotics, the circulation in my toes has greatly improved.
With the WalkAnalyst, orthotic inserts and larger shoes, I feel that I have the ability to try a little harder. Having all those things going against me brought me up to a brick wall quickly.
As I’ve said before, the WalkAide is no magic bullet. I don’t “shop to I drop”, stroll through a zoo or do much of anything that requires any length of time on my feet. I still consider myself “house bound” but without the WalkAide, I’d be “couch bound”. I will take what I can get.