Thursday, 17 May 2018

haunted foot

This week I had an appointment for FES (Functional Electrical Stimulation) at the local Gait and Movement Laboratory. It was the STRANGEST thing!


When I recently saw my MS nurse (in order to write a piece of evidence for my PIP tribunal), she carried out a few strength and mobility tests. On that basis, she felt that FES might be worth checking out to sort out my foot drop:

Functional electrical stimulation (FES) is a treatment that applies small electrical charges to a muscle that has become paralysed or weakened, due to damage in your brain or spinal cord. The electrical charge stimulates the muscle to make its usual movement. In MS it is mostly used as a treatment for foot drop, where disruptions in the nerve pathways between the legs and brain mean the front of your foot cannot be lifted to the correct angle when walking.
From the MS Trust website

So earlier this week I went along to my appointment. And it was completely bizarre.

After they'd watched me walk for a bit (AN ASIDE: why are these types of clinic so bloody far away from the car parks??), they attached two electrodes to my left leg (long time visitors will know that my left leg has traditionally been the main cause of my walking problems).

The electrodes are attached just below the knee where they can stimulate the nerve which goes to the muscle responsible for lifting the front of the foot. The electrodes are controlled by a switch which goes in your shoe - when your foot is lifted a charge is sent to the muscle which then lifts your foot, therefore preventing foot drop!

We had to spend a little time fine-tuning the charge and the position of the electrodes. When it was on my bone and directly on the nerve it was so intense and dramatic I was worried my foot might snap off! And it was undeniably weird to see my foot wildly lurching back and to the left of its own accord.

But eventually we seemed to hit the sweet spot - although I was a little disappointed that the nurse didn't get the reference when my foot had a particularly violent twitch and I asked if she'd turned it up to eleven.

I did a little more walking and the two people assessing me could see that it was helping - at first they'd thought I might need to have a set of electrodes on each leg. But almost immediately both legs were working better (although the muscles in my left leg were knackered - I don't think they've worked properly for years!).

We all agreed that it looked pretty positive for an initial test. So now I wait for them to get me back in for more tests, more fine-tuning and a fitting.

1 comment:

honeysuckle said...

That's good news. Hopefully you'll also feel more energetic since fewer spoons or whatever will be used up when you walk.