“The future depends on what you do today.”
Tip Toe Tracker
Julian is a tiptoe walker and tiptoe stander. Tiptoe walking and tiptoe standing are common in people with cerebral palsy. Over time they both lead to tightening of the calf muscles and shortening of the Achilles tendon. This eventually results in contracture and inevitably requires surgery.
The TipToeTracker is a small biofeedback device that constantly monitors the angle of Julian’s leg. The concept of it is quite simple…if the tracker is at an angle to the ground this means the foot is in tiptoe.
How it works
The device slips into his sock at the level of his calf muscle. If he is standing equally on both feet and his heels are down, the TipToeTracker does nothing. If however, his foot is not flat on the ground, the tracker gently vibrates after 5 seconds to remind him to put his heel down. If he doesn’t heed the warning and put his heel down, the Tracker continues to vibrate more aggressively for the next 10 seconds. After this, if the foot is still in tiptoe, the tracker beeps.
The advantage of the TipToeTracker is that it forces Julian to make his heel touch the ground. This stretches the muscles and prevents them from getting tighter. To appease the tracker, Julian may only push his heel down for a split second. Although this is not completely ideal, the fact that he has stretched it that once is better than nothing.
This is the second version of the TipToeTracker. Julian has been wearing it for more than a year, and his review of it is simply stellar…”It’s pretty good!” (Which for Julian, is saying a lot!)
The TipToeTracker currently measures 44mm X 31mm X 10mm and runs on two coin cell batteries.
Conclusion and considerations
Julian's acceptance and continued willingness to wear the first variation of the TipToeTracker, which was attached to his splint, several years ago made me want to continue and improve on that device. The current version of the TipToeTracker will most certainly help others with the same physical challenges are Julian.
The following improvements will be made in the next version of the tracker. They are currently in the works:
Easier access to on/off switch
Momentary pause button
Adjustable angle analysis while active
Small format. Streamlined.