Walkasins® is an external, lower limb sensory neuroprosthesis for patients with gait and balance impairments due to sensory peripheral neuropathy.
The prescription device substitutes for lost sensation on the plantar surface of the foot by modulating cutaneous mechanoreceptors in the skin at a location above the ankle where sensation is still present, yet within close proximity to the damaged neuropathic region.
This prosthetic device replaces lost plantar sensory function for patients with peripheral neuropathy leading to improved functional mobility in the home and community.
Individuals who may be appropriate for the use of Walkasins have:
Walkasins is not appropriate for patients with insufficient muscle control to act on function, those unable to feel sensory stimulation, patients unable to walk without an assistive device, or patients with a Functional Gait Assessment score higher than 23.
Walkasins non-invasively delivers somatosensory balance cues reflecting changes in foot pressure to replace sensory loss due to peripheral neuropathy. Such somatosensory information is critical for balance control and helps modulate and improve the quality of gait, which is often impaired in persons with sensory peripheral neuropathy.
The device consists of a leg unit attached around the ankle, and a footpad inserted under the user’s foot in a shoe. Changes in pressure under the foot reflecting the wearer’s state of balance are detected by sensors in the footpad and are immediately processed by a sophisticated software algorithm within the electronics of the leg unit. Four small actuators placed around the leg proximal to the area of sensory loss are activated at relevant times providing gentle tactile stimuli that signal important balance events during standing and walking directly corresponding to the user’s movement.
The new sensory balance information provided by the device is in close proximity to the neurological impairment from where the brain is anticipating such sensory signals. This leads to a simple and intuitive use of the device that helps the improvement of balance and gait.