A 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.