Foot drop, MS, MS Device, MSGladiator, MSLiving, MSWarrior

Buyer Beware

This is a motto most people will expect for certain purchases like cars and also yard sale items like puzzles and board games. However most people will trust the guidance of professionals for other purchases. This is especially true if this is a professional you are paying for their expertise. As much as I lean to positive thinking, I advise you to ask lots of questions and make them convince you. As soon as you hear a red flag, like the impression they think you or your view is stupid, walk, or better yet, run away!

Last year I bought a new car and involved my kids. I had narrowed my search to 3 cars from one make. We poured over the cars checking out the features, the interior space, the ease of getting my mobility devices and other items in and out. We picked one and were about to transfer our stuff and fill out paperwork, when we noticed that the gas tank was not on the driver’s side. I required the gas tank to be on the driver’s side. Of course the car salesperson had a different opinion. As I was expecting resistance where my requirements did not match their ideas, I had no problem asserting my wishes.

I had a much different experience working with physical therapists for drop foot devices. The first was not trained, nor had experience with MS patients. But, I was their patient and expected they had the expertise and interest to advise what was best for me. I was freshly MS diagnosed and the therapist arranged for me to be evaluated with a few devices. The recommended device, approved by insurance, ended up causing me problems and then I discovered it had been discontinued from the manufacturer *before* it was recommended to me. The next physical therapist did specialize with MS patients. This one, had me try out a nerve stimulating device with much success. However, insurance disagreed. After a 6 month struggle through the insurance approval and appeal process that ended in denial, I was advised to purchase the device and request reimbursement. Using the device for longer than an hour caused a severe skin reaction. The recommending therapist’s reaction? “Of course, we knew you would have a reaction.” Well, that broke my trust.

This began my own search for drop foot devices. This is where you need to toughen up your stance. Examine all of the details carefully. Check all of the measurements. Read those reviews. Contact the seller with any questions. Remember they are trying to convince you to buy their item. If their responses contradict your intuition, research, experience, or intelligence, stick to your views and don’t buy.

I recently found a drop foot device online at an attractive price point but my size was not offered. I thought the device had great potential. I got excited over the cuff padding, the shorter foot plate allowing an easier gait, padding added to the straps, and the adjustable tension straps that were not velcro. I quickly measured my foot against the sizing chart.

My size was not one offered by the seller. I contacted the seller about how to obtain my size. The response was that really I needed a size that was offered and they attached a picture of a different device. I again contacted the seller, clarified my desired device, and explained why I knew I needed a not offered, but described, size. The recommended size would eliminate the easier gait. I also asked for approved sellers that may carry my size. The response was why the other size would work. A person with my same shoe size was able to put on the larger, recommended size. Yeah, that was not the issue. How was their gait? Did the foot pad edge dig into their toes? I felt this went beyond the hard sell and bordered on bullying and insulting me. Maybe they just didn’t get it. But, I was greatly annoyed. No, I didn’t order the too large size.

I ran into a similar sizing problem with a much more expensive device. I bought the available size thinking it was easy to adjust. Well, once I tried it on I realized this would be a big adjustment. I contacted the seller, included pictures, and asked for guidance. The response was return it, get a refund, and order a smaller size. Exactly the kind of customer support everyone should receive. I just wish the product price was less so I could reorder that smaller size.

Maybe I will MacGyver a cheap AFO I own. Trim the foot pad. Add foam tape to the straps. What do I add to the cuff? It needs to be breathable and soft.

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