I wish I felt comfortable making videos as that would be easier than writing. I’d rather talk than write any day. Because I’m a speech therapist? Maybe. Because I was a teenager in the 80s, constantly on a phone attached to a wall? Probably.
In lieu of a quick video update, here’s the latest addition to my MS therapy regimen. It’s called NewGait and here are the quick and dirty details:
- Remember a few posts back when I mentioned using bungee cords to exercise?
- When I told my friend, Jay Berger, PT and Co-Owner of Virtual Kare, how much it was helping me, she suggested I check out The New Gait which is a “patented wearable harness system comprised of shoulder straps, a waist belt, and limb straps, all interlinked by strategically placed elastic bands”.
- Bungee cords, Therabands and Theratubes are used for either resistance while exercising or assistance while rehabilitating. NewGait uses elastic bands to assist a person while walking.
- I started following them on Instagram and won a raffle which got me a 25% discount on their foot drop bundle, so I bought one. I liked it enough to reach out to Jay and see if I could try the rest of the system.
- NewGait sent Jay some components and I’ve been experimenting with the system for a couple of weeks.
- Specifically it’s helping me with dorsiflexion, toe push off, hip flexion, knee and pelvic stabilization, load response and proprioception. In other words, when I wear it, I walk better.
- When I walk better, my brain remembers what it feels like to walk correctly, and I’m able to fire proper muscles again in a more correct sequence.
- Walking on a treadmill at 1.5mph while wearing an AFO for 10 minutes leaves me mentally and physically exhausted. But if I’m wearing NewGait, I can walk 2mph for 20 minutes (without even thinking about walking).
- After 30 minutes I’m tired but in a good, I’m using my muscles again, way. Once I take everything off, I can walk like the old me for a few minutes! Muscles are firing, and I walk with a “lightness” to my step because I’m not dragging my left leg everywhere. After a few minutes my body goes back to its regular fugly, MS gait pattern.
- However, if I exercise longer than that, say for 40 minutes at 2 mph I get no carryover because my muscles, although they were being assisted, are exhausted. Which isn’t bad, it’s just data.
- By working weekly with Jay we’re figuring out where to position the bands, then I come home and figure out how long to wear it, what exercises to try, what’s working and what’s not working.
- After 2 weeks I’m noticing carryover in terms of hip flexion. I’m not marching in place or running up the stairs, but I’m dragging my leg less, lifting it more.
NewGait a cool system that’s not only functional, it’s also affordable. My only complaint thus far is putting everything on and off with one hand. If you have two working hands it’s a great system. If you only have one, you must improvise by either asking a family member to help you each day or devise your own adaptations. For example, I’ve been using my own, longer bungee cord for one placement because it’s safer to attach. I’m also experimenting with different exercise and equipment belts which are easier for me to don and adjust on my own.
You definitely need to work with a physical therapist who can watch you walk and figure out the best configuration for you. But any PT can contact the company and be trained online on how the system works.
You also need to play around with the clothes you wear under the system. Straps stay better positioned when I wear exercise pants and not a pair of jeans for example.
I have no idea what the long term outcomes are with NewGait, but there are a lot of videos on the website to view. Research is currently underway and patients with a variety of injuries and diagnosis are benefitting from the system.
I don’t wear this system outside the house. I could put it on to go the grocery store, I just don’t. Likewise, I see this more as an exercise, rehabilitation aid than a mobility aid. That could and may change in the future, but for now, this is a product I use at home.