A Step in the Right Direction

Only in his 70s, Peter Goldblatt was faced with the prospect of
living out the rest of his life in a wheelchair due to his post-polio syndrome.
However, he is now walking again with help from the C-Brace Orthotronic
Mobility System from Ottobock and Hanger Clinic.

Foundation of new technology

Diagnosed with polio at the age of 2 years, Goldblatt wore orthoses
before undergoing multiple lower extremity surgeries in both legs as a

“Both of my legs were affected,” Goldblatt said. “The
right leg was much more severe than the left leg, which ended up bearing all my
weight and taking care of everything through my adolescent and adult

The surgery allowed Goldblatt to grow up without wearing braces. But
post-polio syndrome began to affect him 5 years or 6 years ago, causing him to
have knee pain and resulting in numerous falls.

Goldblatt achieved a high functional level with the C-Brace.

Goldblatt achieved a high functional level with the C-Brace.

Image:s courtesy of Ottobock


“My wife looked at the Post-Polio Foundation website to see if
there was anyone in this area that could help with physical therapy. It turned
out there was one physical-therapist who was trained in post-polio, located in
Bradenton about 12 miles from us,” he said.

The therapist referred Goldblatt to Hanger Clinic in Bradenton, Fla.,
where he was fitted with a SPL stance control orthoses which allowed him to
become active again. However, the auto mode on the brace still caused a few

“I only have one good leg and that’s the one with the orthoses
on it, so when it locked up my momentum would pitch me forward and I would land
on my face. The answer was not to use that mode, to just use it in free swing
all the time. However, then I had no support if I needed buckles,”
Goldblatt said.

So his Bradenton-based Hanger Clinic orthotist referred him to Chris
Toelle, LO, CO,
of Hanger Clinic, the director of orthotics for the area
who had previous experience with stance control devices. After Goldblatt began
going to Toelle’s office, Toelle was approached by Ottobock, which was
working on a field test for a new orthoses that needed patients.

“During the midst of me working with Peter, Ottobock presented to
me the possibility that the C-Brace technology would be coming forward,”
Toelle said. “They wanted me to find some patients for them to evaluate as
possible candidates to beta test the device. Peter was one of the 10 patients I
submitted as a possibility.”

After the evaluations, three patients, including Goldblatt, were
enrolled in the field test and set up with what would later become the C-Brace.
Goldblatt and Toelle took several trips to the Ottobock Health Care facility in
Minneapolis to go through evaluations, fittings and training of the device. In
between visits, Toelle kept Goldblatt on a strict physical therapy and training
regimen so he would learn and become accustomed to using the device.

Although the field test was supposed to end in December, Goldblatt used
the device until March.


“Peter became such a good candidate for this device; there was
nothing we could revert him to that would be safe enough. So Ottobock agreed
for him to extend the trial through March of the next year so he wouldn’t
be unsafe while they were making decisions about how and what they could do [to
improve the device],” Toelle said. “Eventually, they made the
decision for Peter to stay in the C-Brace and continue using it because there
was no way he was going to come out of it and be safe in anything else after
everything we had taught him.”

“We were able to take Peter to a functional level in a stage of his
life that was going to become dependent on a wheelchair,” Toelle said.
“Not just a functional level, a high functional level. For somebody in his
condition and age, if you wanted to put a K level on it, it would be a K3 or
K4, where, either with or without his original brace, he most likely
would’ve been relegated to a K1 or K0.”

The C-Brace

Unveiled at the Orthopädie + Reha-Technik trade fair in Leipzig,
Germany, in May, the C-Brace combines the science of mechatronics with custom
orthotics in an effort to help people walk despite paralysis due to incomplete
spinal cord injury, post-polio syndrome and other debilitating physical

The C-Brace is equipped with a yielding moment, meaning that it never
locks, and the entire gait cycle is controlled physiologically, using
microprocessors and sensors, in real time. Toelle told O&P Business
that the C-Brace is similar to the C-Leg prosthesis. The C-Brace is
was officially launched by Ottobock in August and is available to all vendors.

“It’s an exciting time for orthotic practitioners,”
Toelle said. “Orthotics have been accelerating tremendously and I think
this is just the tip of what we’re about to see from other people, other
manufacturers and Ottobock as well.” — by Casey Murphy

For more information:

C-Brace Orthotronic Mobility System. Available at:
www.hanger.com/orthotics/services/Pages/C-Brace.aspx. Accessed Aug. 3, 2012.

Disclosure: Goldblatt and Toelle had no relevant financial disclosures.

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