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The WalkAide System (Santa Rosa/Marin)
For Our Patients
WalkAide: Helping You Get a Leg Up on Foot Drop
WalkAide is a medical device that, after more than a decade in development, has received marketing clearance from the FDA for improving walking ability of people experiencing foot drop. Foot Drop is a condition caused by weakness or paralysis of the muscles involved in lifting the front part of the foot, which causes a person to drag the toe of the shoe on the ground or slap the foot on the floor.
Foot drop (also called drop foot) can result from peroneal nerve palsy or from damage to the central nervous system such as stroke, spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury, cerebral palsy and multiple sclerosis. The WalkAide is designed to assist with the ability to lift the foot for those individuals who have suffered an injury to their central nervous system. The WalkAide is not designed to work with people who have damage to the lower motor neurons/peripheral nerves.
Invented by a team of researchers at the University of Alberta, WalkAide uses functional electrical stimulation to restore typical nerve-to-muscle signals in the leg and foot, effectively lifting the foot at the appropriate time. The resulting movement is a smoother, more natural and safer stepping motion. It allows faster walking for longer distances with less fatigue. In fact, many people who try WalkAide experience immediate and substantial improvement in their walking ability, which increases their mobility, functionality, and overall independence.
Advanced Technology That Is Easy to Use
A sophisticated medical device, WalkAide uses advanced sensor technology to actually analyze the movement of your leg and foot. The system then sends electrical signals to your peroneal nerve, which controls movement in your ankle and foot. These gentle electrical impulses activate the muscles to raise your foot at the appropriate time during the step cycle.
Although highly-advanced, WalkAide is surprisingly small and easy to use. It consists of a battery-operated, single-channel electrical stimulator, two electrodes, and electrode leads. WalkAide is applied directly to your leg — not implanted underneath the skin — which means no surgery is involved. A cuff holds the system comfortably in place, and it can be worn discreetly under most clothing. With the WalkAide’s patented Tilt Sensor technology, most users do not require additional external wiring or remote heel sensors.
Customized For Your Individual Walking Pattern
WalkAide is not a one size fits all device. Rather, a specially trained medical professional is needed to fit and customize WalkAide for you. Using WalkAnalyst, a multifaceted computer software program, the clinician will tailor WalkAide to your individual walking pattern for optimal effectiveness.
Exercise Mode for Home Use
WalkAide is an all-inclusive device with a pre-programmable exercise mode that allows you to exercise your muscles while resting for a set period of time as prescribed by your doctor.
WalkAide Provides the Following Advantages for the Patient:
- Easy one-handed operation and application
- Small, self-contained unit that attaches to the leg below the knee
- Does not require orthopedic or special shoes
- May be worn barefoot or with slippers (upon approval of your healthcare provider)
- Minimal contact means minimal discomfort with reduced perspiration
- May improve circulation, reduce atrophy, improve voluntary control and increase joint range of motion
WalkAide is a neuroprosthetics device that channels electrical stimulation to the leg and foot in order to restore typical nerve-to-muscle signals, effectively lifting the foot at the appropriate time. WalkAide is among the most celebrated and highly regarded neuro prosthetic innovations available today because many people experience immediate and substantial AQ improvement in their walking ability.
For The Medical Community
WalkAide: Neuro-Prosthetics Technology for the Effective Treatment of Foot Drop
The WalkAide can effectively counteract foot drop by producing dorsiflexion of the ankle during the swing phase of the gait. The small device attaches to the leg, just below the knee, near the head of the fibula. During a gait cycle, the WalkAide stimulates the common peroneal nerve, which innervates the tibialis anterior and other muscles that produce dorsiflexion of the ankle. Users of the WalkAide are people who have lost the ability to voluntarily lift their foot, often as a result of damage to the central nervous system such as stroke, incomplete spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury, cerebral palsy and multiple sclerosis. This type of stimulation will not work with people who have damage to the lower motor neurons/peripheral nerves.
The WalkAide is a battery-operated, single-channel electrical stimulator that can be used to address dropfoot with functional electrical stimulation. WalkAide utilizes a Tilt Sensor to control stimulation during normal gait. A Hand Switch on the WalkLink is used by the clinician during setup to trigger stimulation while the Heel Sensor collects additional data. The clinician uses the WalkAnalyst software on a laptop computer to program the Tilt Sensor in the WalkAide. Use of the Tilt Sensor to trigger stimulation eliminates the need for external wires or remote Heel Sensor during regular use.
Although easy to use, the WalkAide is a sophisticated medical device. Since it leverages functional electrical stimulation (FES) technology, certain precautions should be taken when considering or prescribing use of WalkAide. These include:
Heart Disease — Use caution in applying electrical stimulation to persons suspected of having heart disease. More clinical data is needed to show that such persons will not experience adverse results.
Epilepsy — Use caution in applying electrical stimulation to persons suspected of having epilepsy. More clinical data is needed to show that such a person will not experience adverse events.
Recent Surgery — Do not use FES following recent surgery where muscle contraction may disrupt the healing process.
Proper Use — The safety and efficacy of FES depends on the proper use and handling of the FES system. Improper use of the device or electrodes can result in injury to the user. Regularly check accessories for wear and replace as needed. Electrodes should be firmly secured to the skin. Never use the WalkAide if it appears to be malfunctioning. If there is a change in the way it usually works (i.e. change in sensation, surging of stimulation, intermittent stimulation) do not use the WalkAide and contact your WalkAide-trained clinician immediately.
Electrodes — Do not use lotion or oil in the area that the electrodes make contact with the skin. Stimulation may not be effective.
Sensory Deprivation — Use caution when placing electrodes on areas of the skin with reduced response to normal sensory stimuli, due to the risk of skin burns.
Operating Equipment —The stimulator should not be used while operating potentially dangerous equipment such as automobiles, power lawn mowers or large machinery. Abrupt changes in stimulation level could create a hazard.
Sleeping and Other Daily Activities — The WalkAide should not be worn or used while sleeping or bathing.
Heat and Cold — The use of heat or cold producing devices such as electric blankets, heating pads or ice packs may affect the electrodes or the person’s circulation and increase the risk of injury. A medical doctor and clinician should be consulted before using with FES.
Skin irritation and burns beneath the electrodes have been reported with the use of powered muscle stimulators. Do not leave the electrodes in place for long periods of time without checking or cleaning the skin underneath them. It is normal to observe somewhat reddened areas under the electrode placements; however, the redness should disappear within an hour. Signs of irritation are maintained redness, small pimple-like lesions or blisters. DO NOT continue stimulation over irritated skin.
Children — FES devices should be kept out of the reach of children.
This stimulation activates the muscles that dorsiflex the foot at the appropriate time during the gait cycle, producing a much more natural and efficient pattern of walking, with increased stablity. Further, WalkAide may improve circulation, reduce atrophy, improve voluntary control over time and increase joint range of motion in patients with Foot Drop.
Many people who try WalkAide experience immediate and substantial improvement in their walking ability, which increases their mobility, stability, functionality, overall confidence and independence.
WalkAide is a neuro prosthetics device that channels electrical stimulation to the leg and foot in order to restore typical nerve-to-muscle signals, effectively lifting the foot at the appropriate time. WalkAide is among the most celebrated and highly regarded neuro prosthetic innovations available today because many people experience immediate and substantial improvement in their walking ability.
Test Drive The WalkAide System:
How do you know if The WalkAide System is right for you? Call today to schedule your Free WalkAide Test Drive. Read more about our Test Drive program by clicking here.
If you are interested in getting more information about The WalkAide System, please call us at 800-315-9808 or use our Contact Form to send us an email.
We have facilities in Santa Rosa, Novato, Ukiah, and Clear Lake.