The Benefits of WalkAide
The muscles atrophied on my right leg, specifically, my knee joint. Sometimes it buckles. I had a hinged support brace for the knee. It works well, coupled with the cane or four-pronged walker, but, sometimes it hurts, especially the lower back.
Fifteen years ago, I fitted for a leg brace during 2000; HealthSouth in Monroeville, PA is a top-notch facility. I'm 52, confined to a wheel chair. Gimme a break. Make me vertical! Oh, one more thing...I can't talk, either. God's little irony.
The leg brace is a medieval torture chamber with bells and whistles and snaps and buckles, nevertheless, I persevered. I'm walking again. Three physical therapists supported me; the wheel chair just in case, the four-pronged walker for my left hand, just in case, and the leg brace for balance. Three steps. It's progress. Woo hoo!
I moved to a nursing home, Harmon House in Mt. Pleasant, in March 2000. Every day, I went to physical therapy, still in a wheel chair. The leg brace is long-gone, thank God. The routine was walking on a knee brace and a four-pronged walker, probably, ten to 20 feet. Turn around, and walk back. Instant exhaustion. The wheel chair looks good to me. I was a runner before the stroke. God's little mirthful irony.
Long story short, eight years ago, I lived in the mountains in Bear Rocks. I love to walk. Flipping the pages of my Stroke Connection, WalkAide appeared. The peroneal foot lifts electronically. It's a cattle-prod, essentially. It's a simple machine, three buttons.
I called WalkAide, I pieced together sentencing fragments. WalkAide knows about aphasia and the stroke. Do tell. I have an appointment for Hanger Prosthetics in Greensburg in 2008. The physical therapist electrically stimulates the appropriate nerve (peroneal nerve) that signals the ankle joint to dorsiflex. Two electrodes are used.
Next, Excela Hospital in Mt. Pleasant for physical therapy, three times a week; step-gait muscles, strength exercise and TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) for the muscles on my right leg. Now I'm ready.
As I said, the muscles atrophied on my right leg. Eight years is a long time. However, read WalkAide very carefully, especially the video. You'll be glad you did.
My left hand is functional, my right hand is unfunctional.
Use an rubbing alcohol pads for the affected area. Clean well. Really well.
Soak the electrodes with plenty of water. I use bottled water, eighteen ounces. Keep it handy in the bedroom.
With my left-hand, the WalkAide snaps in to place. Turn the knob, for example, to 5. (The physical therapists knows.) Press STIM button.
Two minutes, max. No lower back pain and I'm ready to walk.
In the evening, turn it down, say a "three" on the STIM button. The electric shock is too much. The morning, afternoon and the evening, I'm on the go all of the time.
There's two electrodes; one o'clock and three o'clock on my knee. The three is fine, but the one has pimples ever so slightly. When I go to bed, I rub antibiotic cream to the affected area. It's gone before morning.
Keep a spare battery (AA) in your pocket or purse, just in case. The shelf-life is one month, give or take. With my left hand, I have difficulties in changing my battery. Press down and discard. The audible "beep" will sound indicating the battery is low.
The electrodes should replaced every, probably, 2 weeks. I use my teeth. Hey, whatever works. The two leads (red and black) are connected to the electrodes. With my left hand, I use my teeth to connect wires on the lead with the locator (electrode)...very carefully. It works well. Turn off the WalkAide, of course.
Washing the cuff - Remove the liner, DO NOT remove the little red and black locators. Line dry only and hand wash.
WalkAide has Bluetooth technology; every step I take, via the computer, it knows. Any walking pattern or shift in model, it knows. Schedule an appointment for the clinician for the appropriate adjustments.
Cost: Medicare doesn't cover WalkAide. (Write an email to the President of the United States...I'm not kidding!) WalkAide is working with insurance companies to determine coverage. Over the three years, I forked over $4500, (a WalkAide unit, cuff, electrodes, clinical evaluation and follow-up visits). Electrodes cost, over the three years, $800+/=. It's definitely worth it. I have equity in my house. Thank God.
WalkAide provides a clinician EVERY TIME for appropriate adjustments, for asking questions and fine-tuning. I have Medicare and group insurance.
I FEEL better, no back problems, the right leg is fine and I have strength, energy and persistence. I live in the mountains, the uneven hills, grasses and banks are no problem for me. One caveat; I'm extremely careful all the time. Vigilance is key. I know my limitations.