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By the generosity of my brother Carlos and Charles Davis, a good friend, and my stepdaughter Adrienne's coordinating, I was able to acquire a device that is helping me walk. Appropriately enough the device's is called the WalkAide. It was designed to help people who suffered from drop foot a way to walk.
No longer would I have to accept my rigid, plastic and metal AFO (ankle foot orthosis) as the only option to walking that is available to me. Now I had a state of the art device that could facilitate my walking and not make it such a foreboding status to overcome. Also, it would free my ankle to exercise without the constraint of the hard plastic given by the AFO.
I wear it in conjunction with my AFO or some other brace because my ankle tends to roll over when it doesn't have any support. Thank God I have much flexibility in my ankle because otherwise I would've broken it on several occasions, long ago. When my ankle rolls over I ended up just standing on it, bent and fearful, waiting for somebody to rescue me. So I don't take any chances anymore, though with my softer braces I still have that concern, but I am very careful and always conscious of the fact that it could happen. The rigidity of the AFO is very safe in preventing my ankle from rolling.
When I am at home on even ground, most of the time barrier free, I walk around with my WA in my slippers, stocking feet, or just barefeet. But out in the bigger world where there is much uneven ground and many barriers I need my walking kit and that consists of my AFO, WA, and cane along with my size 12 Fila's, so that I am able to go anywhere for as long as my endurance lasts. I tried walking without my cane for a spell, and then I had a therapist tell me it wasn't safe and I agreed with her. I felt so much more secure with the cane that I understood I was just taking chances going rogue.
First thing in the morning I reach for my WA, try to use my right hand to steady it in place below my knee and fix the clasp on. Then I turn it on to one and a half on the dial and I'm ready to go usually to the bathroom. I have the updated version which is other than the Velcro strap design in the video which was made in 2009. The WA runs on a single AA battery that needs replacing approximately every two weeks, or when the beeping starts and that's a signal that the batteries are going.
I know what you are thinking, "why does he need two devices, the AFO and WA, that were designed to do the same thing." Well, I feel that the WA gives me the impetus to walk and of the AFO provides safety to my ankle. And with this combination I feel very confident in where I am going and what I am doing. Let me give you an example of a time where I did not have my AFO. I was in Taos, New Mexico walking in gravel, thinking I could get by on just my WA and impress my friends, when my ankle began to fold under me, and my friend had to rescue me many times, and after that trip I never left home without it.
The WA has been a godsend. When used in conjunction with the AFO it provides me the opportunity for safe, enjoyable walking. Not everybody may need to use the WA in conjunction with the AFO, that will depend on your circumstance. I'll explore more of the pros and cons behind the WA in future posts.