Yesterday the Mail Online reported that 120,000 victims of stroke in the UK could benefit from ground breaking FES technology to help them walk again. The problem is that the NHS will not provide the treatment to everyone who needs it.
Journalist and political commentator Andrew Marr suffered a stroke last year and has been using FES to overcome drop foot during his recovery. Drop foot is a debilitating condition in which the patient, as a result of nerve damage and paralysed muscles, cannot lift their foot upwards when they walk. Consequently the toes of the affected foot drag along the ground.
For some drop foot can make walking very laboured, unsteady and unsafe, and for others it can be completely impossible and result in being restricted to a wheelchair. It also inhibits the recovery process as it makes it difficult for the patient to exercise and strengthen weakened muscles. The first 6 to 9 months after a stroke is the key window in which a patient can regain good function and mobility. If they are hindered by foot drop their physiotherapy can be less effective.
FES works by stimulating the nerves in the leg which are responsible for flexing paralysed muscles on the top of the foot. A sensor is placed in the user’s shoe, and each time s/he takes a step a signal is sent to a device on the leg which stimulates the nerves. The foot will then flex upwards with each step, preventing the toes from dragging along the ground. The patient is able to walk normally and safely, and when used over a period of months, they could even retrain their nerves and muscles to be able to walk naturally once again.
Andrew Marr recently appeared on the Johnathan Ross show where the foot sensor of his FES device was clearly seen. He was fortunate enough to be able to afford FES treatment, and has spoken out in the about how important it is that the NHS starts offering more support and rehabilitation to stroke victims.
"There are lots of people all around the country who are in their 20s and 30s and they're in a wheelchair or they can't walk and they can't work. They are going to spend 50 or 60 years dependent on the state, unable to pay taxes, unable to work and have a full life. With a bit of physiotherapy we could turn that around and as a country we have to give people physiotherapy after a stroke."
The Daily Mail reported that although FES is available with the NHS in some parts of the country, some local clinical commissioning groups do not want to fund the technology to every patient who could use it.
If you are denied the treatment on the NHS, having private treatment is an option but this can cost upwards of £2500, which is unrealistic for many people.
We’re proud to offer an alternative – the XFT-2001 Foot Drop System.
The advanced technology works in exactly the same way as that which is available through the NHS or private clinics, but it is a more affordable option at less than half the price of private treatment.
is a fully approved medical device, and should still be used in conjunction with a specialist. So if you’ve been turned down FES treatment on the NHS, but still want to give it a go, show your physiotherapist or clinician the XFT-2001
as you’ll need them to help you set the device up and to start using it. The device could help patients with MS, Parkinson’s and other upper motor-neurone conditions.
Find out more about the XFT-2001 Foot Drop System and how it could help you here.
Andrew Marr on the Johnathan Ross Show, 15/03/2014, http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/professor-karen-middleton/andrew-marr-stroke-rehab_b_4807071.html
Mail Online, 17/03/2014, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2582965/Andrew-Marr-uses-FES-NHS-trusts-wont-pay-them.html