Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT) is a progressing disorder that affects peripheral nerves, which control movement and sensation. This results in muscle weakness and reduced physical abilities.
Orthopedic devices can help maintain mobility and improve quality of life for CMT patients. Their use should begin early in disease progression, because they can prevent muscle strain and weakness.
There are different kinds of orthopedic devices that a person with CMT may find useful. These are described below.
Leg or ankle braces
Leg or ankle braces provide support while walking or climbing stairs. Some people may get pressure spots from wearing braces. For comfort and to avoid pressure spots, it is essential that braces fit well and are custom made. Braces need to be adapted from time to time to account for changes in body weight or height.
Boots and orthopedic shoes
High-ankle and orthopedic shoes can improve stability, support weak ankles, and correct problems with walking.
In the early stages of CMT, foot orthotics, or shoe inserts, can provide additional stability for the foot and help correct imbalances. For most patients, soft, over-the-counter inserts are sufficient. However, some people may benefit from custom-made orthotics.
With advancing foot deformities, foot orthotics usually become ineffective and patients may need to consult with an orthotist or prosthetist. In the advanced stages of CMT, shoe modifications such as rocker bars and wedges are recommended.
Toe correcting devices
CMT patients may experience a type of foot deformity called hammertoe, where the toes curl downwards.
Crest pads are gel pads with a loop around two to three toes that provide a spongy silicone bumper to help keep the toes straight. They also lessen pressure on the toe tips while walking.
Many CMT patients also benefit from products like Correct Toes, which contains silicone squares that surround each toe. It protects the toes and helps to keep them straight. Because such products need some room, they work best in sandals or stretchy shoes.
With disease progression, the thumb usually gets weak and might rotate externally. Thumb splints support the thumb and can help improve hand function.
CMT may cause scoliosis or a sideways curvature of the spine. A back brace is a stiff plastic jacket that fits around the trunk. It straightens the spine and can help to prevent scoliosis from progressing.
Most CMT patients retain the ability to walk, but some may find benefit in using a wheelchair when walking becomes tiring or painful.
Charcot-Marie-Tooth News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.