Living with drop foot

Drop foot is a common problem experienced after stroke, but can also occur after nerve damage or Neurological conditions

What is Drop foot?

Drop foot occurs when the muscles are not strong enough to lift the foot and toes. It can also occur if the foot lift is hampered by tight or overactive calf muscles due to spasticity. Weakness relating to drop foot can also cause the person to hit the ground on the outside of the foot, which may increase the risk of ankle injuries. Sufferers often compensate by swinging their leg outwards, or hitching their hip during walking. In all cases drop foot can lead to trips and falls, and slow inefficient walking. The individual often loses confidence, especially when walking outside. Drop foot can therefore have a negative impact on everyday activities such as household tasks, social activities, and hobbies.

Treatment options

The initial treatment for drop foot is usually physiotherapy. This includes exercises and, gait training. However, if full function does not return, a splint that fits in your shoe, known as an Ankle-Foot Orthosis (AFO) may be provided. Other treatment options include medication (Baclofen or Botulinum) or surgery.

Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES)

(FES) uses small electrical currents to stimulate the nerves that connect to the paralysed muscles.This causes the muscles to contract. FES can be used to stimulate nerves in the arms, legs, trunk and buttocks in order to achieve a range of functional movements.