I left rehab with an Ankle-Foot Orthosis (left) to support my ankle and keep my foot from dragging. I hated it. I hated having to wear long socks in hot weather. I hated having to put on a brace and shoes in the morning just to walk to the kitchen for a cup of coffee. I hated wearing shoes that were two sizes too big so they could fit the brace.
I googled alternatives and found the Freedom Soft Footdrop Brace (center). I discussed it with my since-dismissed physical therapist who said it wouldn’t give me enough support. I ordered it anyway (July 2010, $120). By allowing more ankle flexibility, my muscles strengthened.
When I started with Arbi (Feb. 2011), he said, "Marcelle, why are you wearing shoes that are too big for you? No wonder you walk funny." He directed me to a sports brace (right). It was only $20 and I could wear it with my regular shoe size!
The first few days wearing that brace my foot felt like it was going to roll over and break off at the ankle. I questioned Arbi – but he was firm and so was the brace. Within weeks, my ankle strengthened and, in July 2011, I stopped using a brace. Period.
I read in a fellow survivor’s blog that she had become dependent on her AFO because it had prevented her muscles from developing. I don't know if what I did would work for everybody. But I am glad I ignored the skepticism of my first PT and trusted Arbi enough to follow his advice. Half the battle is knowing who to listen to and when to listen to yourself.