What is weak foot dorsiflexion?

With weak foot dorsiflexion (or peroneal nerve paralysis/peroneal nerve paresis), the brain can no longer correctly transmit nerve impulses that control raising the foot to the foot lifter muscles. Causes range from stroke, spinal disc herniation and traumatic brain injury to failed hip surgery. Also neural diseases such as multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s can lead to peroneal nerve paralysis. Due to its location on the external face of the knee joint, the peroneal nerve is also more vulnerable to impacts and bruising.

Weak foot dorsiflexion – symptoms

Walking on two legs is a natural but extremely complex process: Muscle groups in the foot, lower thigh, thigh, hip and back must interact with numerous joints as well as with the sense of balance, visual perception and touch. Considering all this, it soon becomes apparent just how seamlessly brain, nerve and muscle structures need to mesh together for this.

In peroneal nerve paresis damaged brain or nerve cells prevent the nerve from receiving signals or transmitting these cues to the muscles as motor commands. This means that patients with weak foot dorsiflexion cannot lift (dorsiflexion) and roll their feet when walking. A common feature is also the drooping tip of the foot (plantar flexion), which is dragged along the floor.

The lack of leg mobility can be compensated for with what is known as foot drop. Patients then swing the affected leg forwards and lift it up with a circular hip motion (circumduction). This unnatural walking posture can lead to pain and stress symptoms in the hips and spine, and may even result in spinal disc herniation. As a further consequence of the tense posture, patients often walk on the outer edge of the foot or claw their toes. Walking is therefore no longer a natural process, but instead demands a lot of attention for each individual step taken, with the risk of tripping and falling increasing significantly.

Treatment options for peroneal nerve paralysis

Weak foot dorsiflexion is usually a consequence of damage sustained to the dorsiflexion mechanism of the foot, in medical terms the treatment of the cause is therefore of primary importance; this can lead to an improvement in peroneal nerve paresis. The foot drop system innoSTEP-WL is a therapeutic device which has been demonstrated to improve patients’ mobility and quality of life: Electrical impulses are sent to the peroneal nerve via an electrode cuff attached to the leg, the nerve in turn transmits these impulses as a contraction command to the dorsiflexion muscles (musculus tibialis anterior) allowing the foot to be raised during the swing phase of the stride (dorsiflexion).

The innoSTEP-WL can enable patients with weak foot dorsiflexion to walk more naturally and safely and thereby reduce further injuries: The functional electrical stimulation promotes blood flow, and sustained movement of the anterior tibialis muscle helps combat muscular atrophy. Remodelling of neural pathways is promoted at the same time, because information is continuously transmitted to the brain and muscles for processing. Symptoms can therefore be improved with long-term use.

Usage: foot drop system innoSTEP WL

How do I obtain the innoSTEP WL foot drop system?

Your doctor can prescribe the innoSTEP WL drop system. Medical prescriptions can be sent directly to HELLER MEDIZINTECHNIK GmbH & Co. KG. After approval by your health insurance fund you will be instructed to use the system by a trained medical product consultant. You can also buy the device yourself.

We will of course be happy to advise you on how to use the innoSTEP-WL and our other electro-medical therapeutic devices: Simply call us on (+49 (0)6442 942 10), or contact us by e-mail or use our contact form. Further details and resources – such as a prescription template – can be downloaded here.

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