Amy McColm is an Orthotist and Academy Clinician at Ottobock – a world-leading manufacturer of prosthetic limbs, wheelchairs and orthotic supports.
The company is a worldwide distributor of the functional electrical stimulation (FES) device, the L300 Go.
The hugely popular drop foot stimulator works by delivering a charge through the nerve and the belly of the muscle, making it contract so the leg can move more naturally.
The device has improved quality of life for countless patients across the globe, from stroke survivors to Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis patients.
“The L300 Go massively reduces their risk of trips and falls, enabling many people to walk independently.
“We’ve seen incredible results for patients who don’t have to rely on walking sticks anymore. This can massively increase their confidence.”
The wireless device is strapped around the calf, with a single electrode that clips into the cuff, and up to two channel stimulation delivering a charge.
This design eliminates the need for a foot switch, making the L300 Go lightweight, comfortable and easy to use.
“Standard orthotics and AFOs have their place, but patients often find these bulky and heavy, and you have to be able to fit a shoe over the top.
“While a standard solid ankle AFO will hold the ankle in one position, the L300 Go supports movement, which can lead to improved range of motion at the ankle.”
The L300 Go can be tailored to the individual’s needs, with settings altered throughout the day and through the course of rehabilitation.
The clinician will assess the patient to set the level of intensity required to get the muscle to contract.
They can then alter how rapidly the charge is triggered, tailored to the patient’s walking pattern.
The device also offers a training mode, again programmed to the patient’s requirements.
“Instead of passively stretching the foot, the patient can sit down for 30 minutes with the L300 Go lifting their foot for a set number of seconds, and then a period of rest, repeating until the end of the program.
“The physios can tailor that to the patient’s needs. It can be very specific.
“Every time it’s set up, it’s completely individual. And everyone will have a different tolerance threshold, and a different muscle contraction threshold. So it’s set up for each individual user.”
“So all of that is really specific to each users requirements.”
The L300 has evolved considerably over the years, with Amy and the wider Ottobock team continually looking at ways to improve it.
One recent addition is the thigh cuff.
This is used on the upper leg to control the bending or straightening of the knee and can be paired with the lower leg cuff or used as a standalone.
A mobile app allows gives patients control of the output, allowing them to slightly increase or decrease the intensity.
“If we set the level of intensity in clinic, there is a small amount of adjustment for the user to change throughout the day depending on the need or fatigue level.”
This is particularly useful for things like MS, where the patient may get tired throughout the day.
The app can also measure activity, such as the number of steps taken, allowing the wearer to track their progress.
This innovation has become increasingly in-demand across the rehab space, as patients become more tech-savvy and engaged with their rehab.
“People want to be able to control their own rehab.
“You’ve had a lot of the control taken away from you. It’s nice to be able to give some of that back.
“As technology is improving, mobile apps are becoming more and more useful.
“We are continually doing research and development to improve the product.
“We work closely with the manufacturers and have a community of experts to talk through any challenges.
“Customer feedback is really important too. We have a global community helping us to shape the product.”
Learn more about the L300 Go at Ottobock.com
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