By Libby Hopkins
There are a lot of activities out there that we take for granted; say for instance, dancing. What’s so difficult about dancing? It’s just a step to the left and then to the right. Even if you aren’t coordinated, you can still move your feet to the rhythm, right? Not if you suffer from foot drop. It’s estimated that 75,000 Floridians suffer from foot drop, including those with MS, cerebral palsy and patients recovering from stroke or brain injuries. Foot drop is a condition caused by weakness or paralysis of the muscles involved in lifting the front part of the foot, which causes a person to drag the toe of the shoe on the ground or slap the foot on the floor. Daisy Vega of Riverview suffers from foot drop from MS and her doctor suggested she get a Walkaide.
According to the Walkaide website (www.walkaide.com), “The device consists of an AA battery-operated, single-channel electric stimulator, two electrodes and electrode leads. The device is applied directly to the leg, not implanted underneath the skin, which means no surgery is involved. A cuff holds the system comfortably in place, and it can be worn under most clothing.” Her doctor said her insurance would cover it. “I found out later that my insurance didn’t cover my Walkaide because it was considered ‘experimental’, so I had to pay over $5,000 for my Walkaide,” Vega said.
After Vega and her husband, Wilfredo, paid for the device, she got to thinking that she was lucking enough to afford the Walkaide, but what about the other people in the community who couldn’t? Vega is very strong in her Christian faith and she knew God wanted her to help others who suffer from foot drop be able to walk with the help of a device like hers. “I went to church one Sunday and God put it into my heart to start a foundation to help people get Walkaides,” Vega said. She started the not-for-profit Freedom to Walk Foundation. “Our goal is to educate the community about the Walkaide and help people who suffer from foot drop to obtain the device,” Vega said. “We want to be able to give a hand up, not a hand out.” If you would like to learn more about the Freedom to Walk Foundation, you can visit its website at www.freedomtowalkfoundation.com or call Vega at 546-2329.