03 August 2023
In June 2020, Tara accidentally slammed her right wrist in between a door and a wall. There weren't any broken bones, just nerve damage. Although never formally diagnosed, Tara had all the classic symptoms of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) and lost full use of her hand for over a year, as it was stuck in a fist.
CRPS is a poorly understood condition where a person experiences persistent, severe and debilitating pain usually following an injury. Tara had physiotherapy on her hand and has been able to regain some function and can now use her thumb and index finger… though unfortunately, that’s not the end of her story.
In May 2022, Tara caught COVID, which resulted in what was thought to be CRPS spreading to her left leg. Since then, she has only been able to walk on her toes and her leg twists inwards when she walks. To make matters worse in May 2023, Tara woke up one day with a bit of a stutter, which rapidly progressed into her losing most of her speech. She is now undergoing more tests to see if her doctors can find out what is causing it.
In the meantime, Tara needed to find something that could help her walk, preferably without pain. The NHS orthotist she was seeing said that in his 30 years of experience, she was the hardest patient he had ever had, and he was at a loss as to what to recommend. The only solution he could think of was to give her something for Drop Foot, which she didn’t have. Tara decided to look elsewhere and googled places that specialise in orthotics and found LOC.
As Tara’s condition was complex, she was given the opportunity to have a free virtual consultation with Jack Choong, senior orthotist at LOC who has previous experience treating CRPS patients.
Tara’s face-to-face consultation with Jack was in April. Tara recalls: “After the telephone consultation, we set up an appointment. Jack first started by taking a comprehensive history of my condition and examining how I walked. He thought an Ankle Foot Orthosis (AFO) would provide me with the support my leg needed. He explained all about the plastic AFO and all the benefits it would have. He always asked me what I wanted to achieve and get from the AFO, and never once gave any false promises or promised to ‘fix me’.
Jack then made a cast of my leg and foot and took many measurements to make sure my leg and foot would end up in a normal position. He was even conscious of making the AFO thinner for me so that it would fit in my normal footwear. I was very grateful for that, as I am young so didn't really want to wear special shoes.”
Tara has now been wearing her AFO for three months and says, “I am able to walk! Before, every step I took was very painful, but now I am able to walk for ages with no pain at all. As my leg is also being held in the correct position, it means my hip and back won't have any long-term problems either. At work, I can now walk around a lot more, and it's so lovely to be able to do that, my work mates have all been so supportive in helping me cope with my condition. Without them, it would have been a lot harder. One of my favourite things to do is go up to London at Christmas and visit Oxford Street to see all the Christmas Lights. Last year, I was unable to go as it was far too painful and there was no way I would have been able to walk that far. But this year, I am so excited to be able to go and enjoy it.
Jack has given me a chance to enjoy my life again, and I'm so so thankful to him for everything he has done. I never thought an orthotic could make this amount of difference and change my life so much.”
Tara’s mum says “A huge thank you to Jack at The London Orthotic Consultancy. At last, someone who is willing to try to help Tara get some normal function back in her leg with a very funky leg splint!”
At LOC, we focus on achieving the best outcome for each patient. We are realistic about what we can achieve and work with the patient to achieve their individual goals.
We prescribe bespoke AFOs to support weak limbs or to immobilise the ankle and lower leg. We can either design them to be fixed at the ankle, allowing us to improve a patient’s walking pattern, or they can hinge at the ankle to allow a limited range of movement in one plane.
If you feel like you would benefit from a bespoke ankle foot orthosis or a consultation with one of our specialist clinicians to discuss your mobility goals, please book an appointment using our contact form.
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An AFO is an Ankle Foot Orthosis which as the name would suggest encompasses the ankle and foot. The objective is to control the position and movement of the ankle. AFOs are used to support weak limbs; they can also be used to immobilise the ankle and lower leg to correct foot drop. When set up correctly they can also have a great influence on the knee and hip joints. They are the most commonly used Orthoses.
A patient’s comfort in their AFO is vital for compliance with the prescribed wearing regime.
So there are a number of steps the orthotist should take to ensure a comfortable fit: the patient’s heel should fit fully into the heel cup without excess space, the contours of the plantar surface of the AFO should match the patient’s foot, for children there needs to be up to half an inch growth room in the toe shelf length. At LOC we use our Gait Laboratories at our Kingston and Manchester clinics to fine-tune our bespoke orthotics.
A GRAFO is used to control instabilities in the lower limb by maintaining proper alignment of limbs and controlling their motion. It reaches around to the front of the knee extending down to the ankle. It works by altering a patient’s limb presentation to displace load and impact as well as offering further control to the knee.
The most flexible type of AFO is a Dynamic Ankle Foot Orthosis (DAFO). It is thin and provides flexible support to the foot and ankle.
We have the following facilities and amenities at our Kingston Upon Thames location:
We also have the Gait Laboratory for orthotics patients and Onsite Manufacturing for speedy turnarounds and adjustments whilst you wait.