Patients across the country are expressing their overwhelming approval of the latest stance control knee orthotic joint from Fillauer, the SPL2. “I remember when I was being evaluated for my first KAFO, they showed me the knee joints available,” says Karen Quast. “I looked at them, and they were all essentially locking knee joints that made my leg straight during walking. I remember asking, ‘Is this all you got?'” Karen had developed quadriceps dysfunction and hip flexor weakness secondary to a brain surgery a few months earlier. “My orthotist brought me my first KAFO, and I walked around like a waddling duck. I didn’t want to embarrass him, but I said this was not ideal. I mean, I am in the racing industry, and we put a premium on performance.”
Luckily, Karen’s orthotist, John Griffin, CPO, had heard of a new device introduced by Fillauer during that year called the Swing Phase Lock (SPL). He was advised that the SPL was easy to use, and he could choose any ankle joint. John said, “I was surprised how easy it was to make. Basically it was a standard KAFO construction, only it had to be made more rigid. I liked the simplicity of the joint, so it wasn’t overly intimidating. Unlike the other designs, I could also choose any ankle I wanted. Since Karen had full function of her ankle, I could use a free motion joint.”
Karen added, “I knew we were going in the right direction as soon as I put it on because it only locked when I needed it to. I could bend my knee like normal when walking. There were a few adjustments so I could get the hang of it.”
John commented, “Because the device uses a pendulum to lock and unlock the knee, small adjustments are made to time the locking mechanism properly, after which Karen’s gait improved dramatically. Her vertical oscillation and abduction decreased instantly, and she has a much more efficient and cosmetic gait with increased speed. With the addition of an elastic strap to mimic her hip flexors, her gait was nearly identical to the other leg.”
The latest design of the SPL2 with the two additional locking positions, 15 degrees and 32 degrees, has offered Karen even greater capability. Karen spoke about the latest design, “Occasionally, I didn’t reach full extension, and the knee didn’t fully lock. But the SPL2 gives me greater safety when I am in an awkward position or forget to kick my leg forward. This is a great improvement.” Orthotists and therapists alike have said this expands the number of patients who can now have stance control because the SPL previously required the patient to take a fairly aggressive step with full extension.
Cheryl Elmore was also fit with the SPL2 following functional loss of her quadriceps and hip flexors, “Without the SPL2, my quality of life is greatly diminished. Having two hands on a walker, or even one hand on a cane, really makes it hard to be the wife and mother and person I want to be at this point in my life.” Cheryl was also impressed with the rehab potential of the SPL2.
“I saw dramatic improvements in muscle tone and overall core stability once I started wearing the SPL2 because it allows for a more normal gait, making the most of the remaining muscles,” Cheryl says. “One of the best forms of therapy is simply walking in my brace. I would like to see this brace offered to patients before and after knee surgeries. Maybe patients with knee problems could maintain or even improve their mobility and overall physical fitness before they ever have their surgery. If so, that should help them recover faster and with fewer complications from an unsteady gait.”
Many more orthotic patients are looking forward to increasing their mobility and independence with the SPL2 from Fillauer.