A review of our client’s use of the C-Brace for severe leg nerve injury
Catastrophic injuries are sadly all too commonplace, often as the result of high-speed road traffic collisions. Injuries are frequently life-changing physical disability, which can often lead to serious mental health difficulties.
Ensuring our clients get access to cutting edge technology to maximise their mobility is just one of our aims as a firm. We were delighted to have the opportunity to see how one such orthotic, the C-Brace, can be used and how our clients can benefit from its impressive functionality. The C-Brace is the world’s first mechatronic stance and swing control orthosis and, if suitable for a client, it can greatly improve their mobility.
Why the C-Brace?
Orthopaedic technology company ‘Ottobock’ developed the C-Brace to aid with mobility and give the user an opportunity to regain a sense of independence and freedom that may have been lost through injury. The C-Brace KAFO for example, weighing just over 1.3kg, “allows users to experience a whole new world of movement”. The C-Brace is the world’s only orthosis that is stance and swing phase controlled, providing the user a brace that allows them to walk at variable speeds, as well as “negotiate slopes or rough terrain, avoid trip hazards, descend stairs step-over-step or flex the leg while it’s under load”.
Previous orthoses were limited to unlocking and locking the knee joint, meaning that movements could only be carried out in an abrupt manner whereas the C-Brace intelligently responds to the wearer’s movements; the user does not have to pay attention to every step, and walking becomes a far more natural experience again.
Wearing the C-Brace
The C-Brace is smaller than other orthoses and can be worn underneath clothing and, as it’s lighter, the wearer does not need to exert as much effort when they walk and move around. Although initially conscious of the weight of the brace users have not found it to be prohibitive. There is even a smartphone app which can be used to adjust the orthosis to different modes, such as a cycling mode.
In order to receive a C-Brace client would need to have an assessment and a trial of the orthotic. If suitable, it will be recommended to enable amputees to put more weight through the damaged leg, in turn allowing for an even stride pattern, resisting hyperextension of the knee, and preventing the plantarflexion and reclined angle of the leg below the knee.
We have seen that use of the brace over time does bring significant definitive benefits from its provision. It improves confidence in standing without getting anxious of the knee buckling, a problem which is often noticed prior to the use of the C-Brace. We have also noticed clients have found it easier to move from sitting to standing and vice versa, as the brace self-adjusts to the speed of walking. Overall, outcomes to this point have been impressive.
The benefits of the C-Brace
One of the biggest benefits of the C-Brace is the independence that it brings. For many users, the restriction in mobility, and the associated loss of freedom, is one of the biggest impacts resulting from a catastrophic accident. Whilst perhaps this is not the first thing that springs to mind following any accident, this loss of freedom and independence is the one issue most likely to affect the rest of that person’s life.
This is not to say that there are no other consequences, but part of our job as a member of the rehabilitation team aiming to get the client back to the best possible quality of life, providing access, and funds, to aids such as the C-Brace is an important part of the claim.
There are numerous testimonies online and in print that attest to the increase in quality of life the C-Brace enables. We have noticed the freedoms associated with use if the C-Brace such as returning to holidays abroad in a variety of locations. Traversing slopes and cobbled streets that without the aid of the C-Brace would likely not have been possible without a C-Brace. The improvements to wellbeing and mental health are also noted.
As one would expect with cutting edge technology the cost of the assistive technology is high, there is no way round that, but the benefits offered far outweigh the cost. Our clients have suffered greatly through no fault of their own, the fact that there are the aids and equipment available to open the world back up to them, and what it means to them, and the many other users of this assistive technology cannot be understated.