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dldugan

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I was finally diagnosed in September after making an appointment at another neurology center. My first neurologist said I was too old (77) for ALS and gave a DX of sensorimotor polyneuropathy. It turns out that I have both and was told by the ALS clinic that it is not unusual for older patients with ALS to also have neuropathy.

I first used a cane and now use a rollator for all but the shortest distances. I tire very easily when using the walker. Would leg braces help extend the time I will be able to use the rollator?

Will leg braces help reduce the fatigue from walking?

I recently got a neck brace to hold my head erect and that really helped to reduce fatigue.
 

KarenNWendyn

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It depends on the nature of your problem and the type of braces.

Ankle foot orthoses (AFOs) will help support your ankles if you have foot drops.

Knee braces (of which there are numerous varieties) will help if you have knee joint instability.

If your main issue is weakness in hip muscles, braces probably won’t help much.

A physical therapy evaluation can help sort this out.
 

lgelb

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Usually an ankle/foot orthosis (AFO) would be used, as it's lighter and less cumbersome than a full leg brace, if the issue is drop foot. Your PT or OT should be able to evaluate whether this is a matter of certain leg/foot muscles or whether this is fatigue more related to breathing or other muscles, and s/he should recommend the support that could best extend your time with the rollator.

That said, as you have read here and elsewhere, falls are a big risk and you shouldn't push it. Whatever the reason, it may be time to get other solutions in the queue. Have an open discussion so you can learn about your options.
 

Nikki J

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An afo like mine not only addresses foot drop, it stabilizes my ankle and even helps a little with quad weakness. I have an Ottobok walk on reaction. Allard makes similar but I was told Ottobok was more durable. It definitely helps me with fatigue.
 

Doglady

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Your situation sounds like mine a few months ago so perhaps this will be of interest. I was also diagnosed with ALS as a senior citizen (70) so the transition from seeing the effects of simple aging versus this disease can sometimes be confusing. In my experience the tiring easily while using the rolling walker seems to be related to a combination of foot drop, weak legs and weak breathing. And my breathing is still pretty good - I elected to start the early use of a bi-pap at night as soon as my numbers warranted a prescription based on my neurologist's advice. I have a custom AFO which is needed to raise my bad foot up for walking. I feel like my knees want to buckle sometimes and have fallen quite a few times but don't have a knee or whole leg brace. I think either of those might be too heavy since that leg is also very weak and hard to lift up any more.

When I first graduated from a cane to a rolling walker - I noticed I was exhausting myself by standing while doing simple things in the kitchen or bathroom. At first I thought it was that my arms were weak (which they are) but have learned through experience that I can do more with my arms and hands without fatigue, while seated. Luckily, I got an early loan and prescription for my own power wheel chair. My doctor says to use it to conserve energy but keep walking as much as I can with the rolling walker. And of course, if you just remember to use the seat on your rolling walker whenever possible, it also helps a lot. I still catch myself standing behind it to talk to someone who is also standing, but, am learning to turn it around and sit!

Remember to conserve your energy for things that are most important to you. Good luck as your journey progresses!
 
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