Hello, My name is James Miller. If you haven’t heard my story about how I invented the Flexion Support System, of FSS for short. make sure you check out this page. I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in 2001. Over the past six years my MS has progressed as well as my level of disability, especially the weakness in my hip flexor muscles and that darn foot drop. This downward spiral in my disability has been the driving force for me to find a way to help retain some of my mobility and to remain active. I have a fear of losing my mobility and do not want to give in and resort to using the power wheel chair that is waiting for me in the garage. The Flexion Support System was developed out of necessity and has changed my life by helping me to remain mobile which allows me to stay active. It also helps me to conserve energy, reduce fatigue so I can accomplish more. I have found that stroke patients can have similar situations as MS patients so the FSS might be good option for the similar challenges faced by stroke patients. Check with your physical therapist.
Below is a list of ways I have found the brace to be beneficial in helping me compensate for my hip flexor weakness and reduce the associated hip muscle pain and stiffness.
My ability to walk has continued to decline. Walking causes a great deal of fatigue and stress on my knees, hips and lower back. With the Flexion Support System, I can use my upper body to apply an upward force on the lift strap, which in turn helps lift my leg and foot above the ground with each step. I can walk more closely to normal with the brace. This also takes much of the work and fatigue out of walking and puts less stress on my knee and hips. In 2017, I completed the one-mile route of the MS Walk with the assistance of the Flexion Support System.
2. Climbing Stairs
Climbing stairs is a real challenge due to the loss of strength and use of my hip flexor muscles and foot drop. Without the Flexion Support System, I have to pivot on my right leg and swing my left leg out in an arc to get it around and up a single stair. The foot drop along with the weakness of the hip flexors and stiffness of the hip and back muscles make stairs very difficult.
The Flexion Support System utilizes a 1-inch lifting strap used to lift the leg. This strap is adjustable in length. When you get to the stairs you simply lengthen out the strap until you can hold the strap at arms length while standing up straight. You then simply use your upper body to pull upward on the lifting strap to lift your leg up each stair as you go. It is easier, safer, and reduces the amount of energy spent going up and down the stairs as well as reduces the stress on the hips, lower back and knees. It also seems too reduce the strain on my hip flexor muscles.
3. Getting In and Out of Cars
The ability to drive my car to run errands is essential. However, getting in and out of the car can be frustrating, painful, and even unsafe. When I get in or out I must somehow manually lift my left leg in and out of the car. Up to now, I reached down and picked up my leg by the pant leg or around the upper part of my leg and pulled it in behind me. More than once I dropped my leg causing pain in my hip and leg muscles. The lifting strap on the FSS provides a secure handle and since I started using it I have not dropped my leg. The FSS helps me overcome the weakness in my left hand and arm due to my Multiple Sclerosis.
Using the Flexion Support System, I am able to pull my leg up and in much easier and safer. This is the primary reason I started the development of the FSS. Being able to confidently and comfortable make use of my car has been liberating and critical to my independence.
4. Getting Up from Sitting
When I am sitting sometimes I need to stretch my leg out straight or lift it back to a bent position to get ready to stand. Normally I would need to reach out and pick up my leg by the pants to accomplish this task. However, the brace makes it a very simple and quick to accomplish this in almost any sitting position.
5. Getting In and Out of Restaurant Booths
Sounds easy, right? It is unless your hip flexor muscles are weak or injured. Then this is much more of a challenge. The Flexion Support System allows me to quickly lift and move my leg under the booth or table. I simply sit on the edge of the seat and grab the lift handle and lift and swing the leg in the direction desired. Again, this seems like a simple task but over the course of a day the brace can save you valuable energy!
6. Exercising at the Gym
I use the Flexion Support System to lift my leg or foot to help place it on exercise equipment at the gym. It’s like having a handle for my leg when I need it. I use it when I am specifically trying to exercise my hip flexor muscles. I use it to pull my leg through the full range of motion of the exercise I am doing. Having weak hip flexor muscles will not allow me to get the full range of motion or the number of repetitions without the assistance of the brace. It is very beneficial to my exercise program! Maybe you need just the basic version of the FSS to assist with walking, climbing stairs or just for lifting, moving or adjusting your leg. Maybe you need the additional help of the energy in the resistance bands to help with foot alignment or foot drop then you would want the FSS with the resistance option to provide you more freedom.
What would you do more of if you had an assistant like the Flexion Support System?