Electrical stimulation restores leg muscle activity for MS sufferer

29 January 2015

A 56-year-old MS sufferer in Cork has become the first patient in Ireland to be fitted with Ottobock's MyGait electrical stimulation device to regain some use of her ankle muscles.

Anna O’Connor was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in 2000. One of her symptoms was foot drop, a condition caused by weakness in the leg muscles that help move the ankle. This weakness resulted in her right foot scuffing the ground at each step.

“MS disrupts the neural communication to the muscles, causing weakness,” said Lynn Vale, clinical specialist at Ottobock. “People with MS that suffer with foot drop are more vulnerable to tripping and falling. Walking also uses more energy and people may alter their gait to compensate, commonly lifting their leg higher and swinging it to the side. In Anna’s case, FES was the perfect solution. She has adapted to it with ease and you can see the confidence it has given her to get back out there and enjoy life.”

Photo of Anna O’Connor wearing the MyGait system
Anna O’Connor wearing the MyGait system

Anna is a decorative painter, creating murals that required her to use ladders and scaffolding. She first noticed symptoms when she was out walking with a friend and her right foot was scuffing the ground. Following the diagnosis her confidence was shaken as she could no longer work and simple tasks such as shopping were difficult.

Anna found out about functional electrical stimulation from the MS Society of Ireland and visited Cappagh National Orthopaedic Hospital in Dublin where she undertook a FES trial. The stimulation device works by applying small electrical impulses to the nerves in the affected muscles, with the nerve then stimulating the muscle into movement, lifting the foot from the ground at each step.

Anna continued, “When I was first fitted with the MyGait system, my foot twitched, then it raised. I was amazed how easy it was to use. I couldn’t believe there was something out there that could help me; it was a real starting point to becoming active again.”

Anna adds, “The MyGait system just makes sense to anybody suffering from drop foot like me. MS has taken a lot from me, but I won’t let it defeat me. Gaining some of my mobility back means the world to me.”

Source: Ottobock

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