HFAD (Hip Flexion Assisted Device) helping MS patients walk safer and faster.

ImageA new client with Multiple Sclerosis recently started physiotherapy at Aim2Walk. Right away I noticed the contraption on her left leg which was assisting her leg into flexion.  I had never seen this type of device so I was intrigued to learn more about it. Once I experienced the tremendous difference between the client walking both with and without using the device I knew that this would be a good blog post idea as I needed to share this helpful therapy find.

HFAD (Hip Flexion Assisted Device) is for individuals with MS who experience difficulty walking due to hip flexor weakness. The device wraps around the individuals torso and connects at the laces of a shoe. With this design it allows for better hip flexion, knee flexion and ankle dorsiflexion with the use of dynamic tension bands.  The strap behind the knee also helps assist with knee flexion.  I find it improves walking by keeping the leg straight as appose to allowing the leg to drag to the side.

Although they say it is possible to wear the straps under the clothes I have heard due to comfort you would need some MC hammer parachute pants in order to fit it underneath.  This contraption may not be the most fashionable accessory however it is light weight,  cost effective and achieves great results. If you experience extreme foot drop, you can also wear an AFO to assist with toe up while the HFAD will help with the hip and knee flexion.

A recent study funded by the National MS Society, and published in the Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation examined the efficacy and safety of the HFAD in ambulatory MS patients. The result of the study showed the HFAD significantly improved gait performance, as well as improved strength in the limb fitted with the HFAD.   All in all, the use of the HFAD was found to improve increased daily activity level.

See this video for more information on how the HFAD works. Perhaps it’s something that could assist with improving your walking.

Michelle Wolfe

If you have had a stroke you may be eligible for a research study!

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 If you are suffering from a stoke you may be wondering, “how effective is therapy?” York University is performing a study on the effects of rigorous bout of upper limb therapy.  This will include an MRI before and after the therapy which will give you proof of effectiveness of the therapy. 

Image York University research team is working to understand the control processes employed by the brain in the planning and performance of voluntary goal-directed movements.  The study includes using the Tyromotion Pablo System (which is found at Aim2Walk). They will study the functional behavioural changes and neural networks involved in goal-directed movements of chronic stroke patients who are currently receiving enhanced rehabilitation. 

 What is involved in the study? 

  1. Participants in the study will receive magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) (at York University) measuring your anatomy and activity of your brain before and after the study is completed.
  2. Therapy at Aim2Walk includes approximately 12 weeks for approximately 15 minutes using the Pablo. (This time will be extra therapy free of charge before or after your regular paid therapy session at Aim2Walk).

 Criteria for the Study:

  1. Participants must be beyond 6 months of cerebral vascular accident.
  2. Participants must be receiving therapy at Aim2Walk during the course of the study. 
  3. Upper dominant limb affected, possibly high tone
  4. Must be eligible for an MRI. 

 You are not eligible for the study if:

  1. You have significant cognitive deficits 
  2. You have flaccid tone
  3. You use therapeutic botox
  4. If you have metal implants, are pregnant, have inner ear damage, and/or claustrophobic you are unable to have an MRI which would exclude you from participating in the study. 

 If you are interesting in more information for this study please contact the study coordinator Diana Gorbet at gorbetd@yorku.ca, or 416-736-2100 ext. 33895. If you are currently an Aim2Walk client you may also call Aim2Walk at 416-679-9255 or ask your therapist for more information. 

 The Research team includes: David Albines CSEP, Matt Sanchez RPT, Kara Hawkins MSc, Diana Gorbet PhD, Lauren Sergio PhD

 For more info on on Pablo, see this YouTube video.