Foot Drop or Drop Foot

Foot drop

is a term that is used to describe the the dropping of the foot or inability to raise the foot. There are many causes of foot drop including stroke, Charcot Marie Tooth Disease (CMT), diabetic neuropathy, multiple sclerosis (MS) and injury to the back or peroneal nerve.

When a person is unable to lift the foot, the drops downwards and becomes a hazard for catching, tripping and falling. The person will therefore compensate by lifting the knee higher by flexing more at the hip and knee to clear the ground. The extra effort required to swing the leg through and lift the knee and foot higher often causes the person to tire more quickly due to the increased energy expenditure.

Signs of foot drop:

  • an audible "foot slap" as the person is unable to control the foot hitting the ground and the foot hits the floor
  • a high steppage gait with knees lifting higher during each step
  • tripping
  • falling
  • dragging the foot

In order to make walking more safer and more efficient, people will often turn to orthotic interventions. Ankle foot orthoses (AFO), including articulated AFO's, flexible or "shoe horn" AFO's and Silicone Ankle Foot Orthoses (SAFO), are the most common treatment options. The particular design and style is dependent on the exact needs of the individual. The WalkAide system is another option that may be appropriate for some people.