Drop foot is an abnormality wherein the patient is unable to control dorsiflexion of the foot, resulting in an abnormal gait, back pain, increased chance of falling, and increased chance of developing arthritis. Drop foot is a complication caused by larger overlying disease states, making it difficult to prevent. It is important to address the issue and limit future injury from falling as it is most common in those over the age of 65. Existing devices do not meet the needs of the patients in terms of function, comfort, aesthetic, and cost.
The product aims to develop a new device design which will improve on the current options to manage drop foot. It features a comfortable, flexible ankle sleeve with a motion-triggered locking-and-releasing retracting mechanism designed from a seat belt locking device. The mechanism, situated at mid-calf, allows the foot and ankle to change angles and freely reach natural points of the gait, while still preventing unwanted plantarflexion. The retracting mechanism anchors to the top of the foot using a paracord, ensuring longevity of the device.
Current devices on the market today can be broken down into electrical and mechanical solutions. Electrical solutions, while inducing the most natural gait, are cumbersome to the user and can be difficult to wear effectively. In addition, the cost of electrical devices makes them inaccessible to many of the patients affected by drop foot. The mechanical devices, while lower in cost, are reportedly uncomfortable and inhibit motion within the patient’s ankle. This limitation of motion causes gait abnormality and may lead to greater and faster muscle deterioration. As well as providing the benefit of being a lower cost solution, the compact retract enables a more natural motion than other devices in its class. This allows more reduction in muscular deterioration and more easily mimics normal gait while remaining simple to use.
The product concept is desirable over the devices currently on the market, due to not only its comfort, but also its simplicity and flexibility, which allow users to achieve a more natural gait during everyday activities than other devices allow in this price bracket. Additionally, its lack of requirement on a specific type of footwear allows for universal applications in any patient’s lifestyle.