XFT-2001 FES Foot Drop System
- Alleviates symptoms of foot drop
- Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) technology
- Gait mode stimulates muscles to lift foot with each step
- Traning mode strengthens and rehabilitates nerves and muscles
- Must be used in conjunction with a clinician or physiotherapist.
The XFT-2001 Foot Drop System is a pioneering home-treatment device designed to alleviate drop foot in people with upper motor neurone conditions.
What Is Foot Drop?
Foot drop is the inability to lift the foot and toes properly when walking due to paralysis or weakness in the muscles on the top side of the foot. This makes it difficult for the sufferer to fully lift their foot up when talking a step, causing them to drag their toes along the ground. This scuffing of the toes affects their gait (the way they walk) and balance, making walking even short distances incredibly tiring and with the risk of stumbles and falls.
There are a number of different conditions which cause foot drop, all of which affect the motor nerves and reduce muscle function. The motor nerves carry impulses from the central nervous system which triggers muscles to contract, so if these nerves are damaged it results in paralysis of the muscles. The most common conditions which result in foot drop include:
- Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
- Cerebral Palsy
- Muscular Dystrophy
- Acquired Peripheral Neuropathy
- Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease
- Nerve damage below the knee
- Motor Neurone Disease
- Spinal Stenosis
Foot Drop Treatments
One of the most common ways to manage foot drop in the UK is with ankle-foot orthosis, a hard, plastic brace that supports the foot and ankle to hold it upright at all times and prevent the toes from scuffing the ground with each step. Although this helps to some degree it doesn’t correct gait or help to strengthen and rehabilitate weak muscles, and it still means that walking is laboured and unbalanced. Plus, when worn for long periods of time these braces have been known to cause chafing and soreness as the plastic rubs against the skin, even when worn with socks.
The most effective treatment for foot drop is Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES). FES is a type of Electrical Muscle Stimulation (EMS). This is where the nerves and muscles that control muscles on the top of the foot are stimulated with electrical impulses. The nerves are stimulated when the patient lifts the affected leg from the ground so that the muscles contract and flex the foot upwards, preventing the toes from scraping on the ground.
FES can be undertaken by implanting electrodes into the skin via surgery, or alternatively by applying self-adhesive electrodes on the surface of the skin which connect to a battery-operated stimulator.
FES for Foot Drop has been fully approved by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE). Despite this, the treatment is not readily available throughout the UK due to budget restrictions in certain health authorities. Just like many other expensive medical treatments, it’s a bit of a postcode lottery as to whether or not FES will be available to you.
Now though FES technology is available to use at home via the XFT-2001 Foot Drop System, an advanced medical device that is simple to use and incredibly effective in overcoming foot drop.
How Does the XFT-2001 Foot Drop System work?
Self-adhesive skin electrodes are placed over the peroneal nerves at the top of the lower leg. A cuff is then wrapped over the top to connect them to a Functional Stimulation Unit. A wireless foot sensor is then placed in the shoe of the affected foot.
When the user takes a step and lifts their heel the sensor uses Bluetooth technology to notify the Stim Unit to apply a mild electrical impulse via the skin electrodes. This impulse stimulates the nerves, causing the muscles in the foot to contract. This causes the foot to flex upwards (dorsiflexion) and tilt slightly (eversion) in order to lift the toes up and prevent them dragging against the floor.
This improves balance and means that the ankle is supported when the foot hits the ground once again. Each step is less laboured, making the user’s ability to walk much easier, more comfortable and faster.
Plus, using FES technology for long periods of time helps to strengthen weak muscles and rehabilitate damaged nerves as it retrains the entire leg. With the exception of degenerative conditions such as MS, users will find that with time the severity of their foot drop will improve and they will be able to walk without the device and their muscles will naturally work to lift the foot.
This process is aided by the Training function on the Stim Unit. In Training mode the XFT-2001 will deliver targeted, persistent stimulation to exercise the muscles and make them stronger. There are five Training levels to choose from, each different depending on the existing strength of the muscles. The user will be able to slowly increase the intensity of their Training session to speed up the rehabilitation process.
Who Can Use the XFT-2001 Foot Drop System?
The XFT-2001 Foot Drop System can only be used in conjunction with your clinician or physiotherapist. The device has a simple and accessible interface which makes it easy to use at home once it has been set up and adjusted for you the medical professional treating you. A medical expert will know your existing muscle tone and level of nerve damage and be able to show you where to place the electrodes for the most effective treatment. They will also be able to support you during training sessions in order to help you work towards recovery.
The XFT-2001 is suitable for anyone who has upper motor neuron lesions as a result of Stroke, Multiple Sclerosis (MS), Cerebral Palsy, Parkinson’s disease, brain injury or spinal cord injury. Upper Motor Neuron lesions are when there is nerve damage within the brain or spinal cord.
Please note that the XFT-2001 is not suitable for lower motor neuron lesions including Poliomyelitis (Polio) Guillian-Barre Syndrome, peripheral nerve lesions and Motor Neuron disease. This is because the nerve running from the spinal cord to the muscle is damaged and electrical stimulation will not work on these damaged nerves. If you are unsure whether the XFT-2001 is suitable for you ask your doctor, clinician or physiotherapist.
Foot drop is most commonly found in the left foot but it can occur in the right foot also; please select ‘Left’ or ‘Right’ when purchasing as the design of the cuff and foot sensor differs slightly for each. Some people can experience drop foot in both legs and if this is the case you may wish to use an XFT-2001 on both feet, which is perfectly fine. Your physiotherapist or clinician should advise you on this.