Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Every so often someone asks about an AFO. Usually they would like to know what it stands for, what it does etc.
I've had a few of these yet there is a story behind them that I just have to include with the information.

On our first trip to Mexico I was able to walk short distances with a cane yet eventually I found myself dragging my right leg using more of a hip movement to swing it forward. Of course it was tiring so at our resort I utilized a manual wheelchair which made my life a whole lot easier.

Wanting to experience what Mexico had to offer we signed up for a snorkeling tour, the next morning a van picked us up from the resort there were already a few people on board it didn't take long before we started talking. It was evident that I was having difficulty which led to a conversation I had with another passenger. You see this gentleman also had MS yet he wore something on his foot which made it easier for him to walk. It was called an AFO for "articulated foot orthotic" if it wasn't for the fact that he wore his on his left leg he would have let me try it out. Unfortunately I required it for my right leg needless to say we spent most of the day talking.

The trip consisted in visiting four different locations, the first location was not accessible as it consisted of stairs leading to fresh water where you could swim into caverns. The second was difficult yet I did manage with the help of other passengers yet there really was nothing much to see, the third involved swinging from a rope and diving into a freshwater pond. No thank you I passed on that one as well. Our last stop was at the lagoon with water you only see on travel brochures you know beautiful aqua color what you would expect in the Caribbean.
The beach consisted of boulders and not sand which made my approach to the water difficult and time-consuming, luckily I do not give up easily and was finally able to make it to the waters edge of course I wasn't walking at this point and had been hopping along on my bum to get closer and closer until finally we were there. After struggling with a pair of foot flippers or whatever the correct name is I threw them on the beach donned the mask and snorkeling tube and away my spouse and I went. The water was crystal clear as we swam amongst hundreds of fish of all shapes and colors it was spectacular, beneath us underwater structures from the ancient Mayan ruins.
I found it much easier than initially expected, you see when you wear a mask with a snorkeling tube your face is in the water breathing normally your lungs provide the buoyancy you require thus very little effort is required to move around.

Once we returned to Canada it was not long until I made an appointment with my neurologist. Now this is the doctor that diagnosed me with MS and saw me struggling into his office every few months for a checkup. When I mentioned the AFO his response was "oh yes would you like one" couldn't believe it. Basically I traveled from Canada to Mexico in order to meet a gentleman from Florida to learn about this device and meanwhile my doctor knew about the device all along.
At that point I realized that more letters a person has after their name the less they are in touch with reality.
Of course I wanted one. Not knowing what to expect and I met a gentleman at the Credit View Hospital in Mississauga Ontario. He wrapped what was similar to a cast around my leg and foot dried in less than 10 minutes it was removed to be used as a mold to fabricate my device.
After a week or two I received a call to go in and try it on, that is an experience I will never forget for as long as I live. My first step was amazing it was as if my right foot lifted off the floor with absolutely no effort it was so easy that I almost fell over. I would say it extended my walking ability by at least 3 to 4 years, as well since it was molded to my foot wearing it proved to be very comfortable it was if I wasn't wearing anything didn't feel anything it was awesome only wish they still worked today. Apparently you can buy them off the shelf yet if you can molded type are the ones you want to get also some models do not have the hinge at the heel and are fixed which makes walking up or down inclines more difficult.

That is my story about AFO's

Have a Great Day

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