My bionic leg, part 3……
Six weeks into my four week trial, I have decided to purchase the Bioness L300 Plus. Is it a magic pill that cured my MS? No. But possibly second only to finding a great MS doctor, it’s the best thing that I have ever done to treat my MS.
First, the $$. My insurance denied it. This was no surprise. They will approve it for spinal cord injuries but not MS. Since I am getting the thigh unit as well, it will cost approximately $11k out of my pocket. They offer 0% interest for 18 months, but that is still a lot.
For me at least, it is totally worth it.
With the device on, I can walk close to normal again. For some period of time each day, I can walk completely normal. Eventually the fatigue catches up and overpowers the benefit. I expect that over time it will take longer to hit that point as my endurance and strength continue to come back.
It is critical to work with a physical therapist who is familiar with the unit. We tweaked and made fine tuning adjustments to the unit each of eight sessions in my trial month. Each time made my walking a little bit more natural and easier. The one month mark was a dramatic improvement over day one.
It has turned back the clock at least a few years on my disability. It has also added back considerably to my quality of life in that it actually feels good to walk again. Two months ago I dreaded just walking from my house to the street as it had gotten so uncomfortable and awkward. Now I love going out for longer walks again. I avoided taking my kids to the park. Now I can’t wait to go with them. Cub Scout hikes were something that I feared. Now I am excited to go on them with my son. I intentionally park my car farther away in parking lots from my destination so that I can get a little exercise now.
I was favoring my good leg so much that it was causing pain in my hip. Also, my bad leg was hyperextending at the knee causing pain there as well, and who knows how much damage. Both pains are completely gone.
It has truly turned back the clock for me.
When my disability started to progress, the first thing to go was my ability to walk heel to toe and eventually to walk in a straight line at all. I dealt with my compromised balance by gradually adopting the wide stance walk. A few days ago, I was excited to yell to my wife to check it out! as I walked down a thin line on our floor with hardly a wobble. I can even do the heel toe thing again. It’s the first time that I have been able to do this in a couple of years.
I know that it’s not a cure. My disease will continue to progress. But at least for some period of time, I feel like my old self again.