A physiotherapy attachment to replace rubber straps

After I had the foot plate removed, I decided that something was needed to help me exercise my now un-encumbered ankle. Remembering that it really had not moved for 2.5 years, I knew that it was going need a lot of assistance.
I had been using the rubber straps (see various pics on this site) to ensure that I didn't suffer from claw toe. This scheme was certainly viable to assist in pulling my ankle upwards but was obviously going to be difficult to use in practice for a whole foot.
The reasons for this were several.

So since I was now able to wear a normal shoe I decided to start from first principles, [true engineer that I am!]

As I still have my junk room cum workshop dominating a large majority of the upstairs of my house, I started to rummage through the acquired mass of stuff therein. (I won't even start to describe the state of my garage workshop!).
The following somehow found their way into my hands.

  1. Four old springs from a broken adjustable bench lamp.

  2. Some old strap material with a back-pack clip attached.
  3. An assortment of key rings.

These were dropped on the bed and played around with until an idea forced it's way through the advancing fog of old age.
The springs would attach to the key rings (as per the photo below)

2 springs, 2 key rings and a strap

and the strap, going through one key ring would then be attached to the upper ring on my frame.
So far so good. But how and where to attach the other key ring.
The answer was quite simple. Trainers have often got a loop right at the front of the shoe. I always assumed it was a pointless decoration but it's a great fitting point for a key ring!
And so the device shown in the picture below was born.

Side view of the spring thing

 
The device worked very well since due to it's inherent simplicity it had a good range of adjustment to make matters easier or harder as my leg felt capable of.
I could add extra springs if I wished or I could adjust the length of the strap via the pull-through on the clip. These methods gave me a near infinite level of variation of the amount of resistance I could put onto the ankle.
The physio aspect was covered by doing a series of 'sets & reps'. I'd try to use my muscles to push the foot down against the spring tension and then to control the rate at which I allowed my foot to rise again. By ensuring that the springs were always under tension when I had it attached, they would help in stretching my muscles and tendons by pulling my foot in an upward direction everytime it was at rest.

Annotated diagram

A (pretty poor) animation of how the thing actually works.

Animated exercise picture

 
I have also found that if I used other trainers without the front loop, by using two key rings, one in each lowest lace hole, then the springs could then go to each side of the foot. This seemed to result in an even more comfortable shoe as the pull upward appears to be more uniformly applied to each side of the foot, rather than above the instep.


The other problem I have is that due to the infection costing me my regenerate marrow back in May/June '99, I have a noticable difference in leg length.
Around the house it's no real problem as I wear a trainer on the right foot and nothing or just a sock on the left. This balances me up as I've got about a 40mm difference right now.
However that's not a lot of use outside the house, especially if you've got concrete steps up to the door!
So the other thing I tried my hand at was some sort of wedge that I could tailor for myself and to fit inside my right shoe, helping to even my leg lengths.

I came up with the thing shown below.

Side shot of the wedgie thing

Overhead shot of the Wedgie thing

It's made up of a sandwich of pieces cut from shoe innersoles, the resilient plastic foam kind, but not too spongy. By cutting a paper template made by drawing around my heel to my instep, I then used that to cut four slices of the plastic foam into the same shape. These were then glued together using a spray contact adhesive and left to dry.
The shape was then trimmed with a craft knife so that there is a downward slope from the heel to the instep of the foot, also with a slight angle across the instep (just about visible from the picture) to try to make the wedge as comfortable as possible.
The wedge itself is just over an inch thick and when placed in my right trainer is comfortable enough to let me wear it all day. I have noticed that it has given me considerably more confidence with my increasing weight bearing on the right leg.


It should be pointed out that these are ideas that I have utilised for myself but with the knowledge and approval of my hospital consultant. If you have any doubts then please check with your medical professional first to ensure that he or she feels these methods may be of assistance to you.
Also, if you've come up with any inventions of your own, please let me know, with pictures if possible and I'll gladly put them up on the site for other's to try.


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