I’ve been walking with the Bioness L300 Go for about eight months, so it’s time to update everyone on how things are going.
The L300 Go is a functional electrical stimulator (FES) that helps counter my foot drop. MS has damaged the nerve that carries the message telling my left ankle to flex upward and lift my toes as I walk. The L300 Go senses when my left leg starts to move forward. Through a cuff strapped below my knee, it sends a low-intensity electrical pulse to the nerve, ordering my ankle to flex up and lift my toes.
The Go is an upgraded version of the original L300. I started using the original device in October 2012. Shortly before the Go became available in 2017, I gave it a test walk. But I didn’t want to spend $4,000 on the trade-in cost to buy one. The L300 isn’t covered by most commercial insurance policies, Medicare, or Medicaid.
But because Bioness was phasing out support for the older unit, I tried the Go again last December. This time, I decided to bite the financial bullet and upgrade.
Mixed results for the L300 Go
The best thing about the L300 Go is that it doesn’t require a sensor in my shoe like the older model. That means I can easily change shoes or even use the cuff while I’m barefoot. The lack of this sensor, however, means there’s a little relearning curve. With a sensor, the electrical pulse would fire as I lifted pressure off my heel. Without the sensor, the pulse reacts to leg movement rather than heel pressure. So, the pulse seems to begin later and last longer.
I also need to walk a step or two until the unit’s three-axis gyroscope and accelerometer learn what my leg is doing. The folks at Bioness say this allows the unit to adjust for different walking speeds and surfaces, but I’m not sure that it really does. At least, I don’t notice it changing.
The Go, like the original L300, also is inconsistent. Its placement on the leg must be just right, and after using one for nearly eight years, I’m still not sure where to put it each time I strap it on. Sometimes I have to try two or three spots. My leg also has to be clean and can’t have any kind of lotion or soap residue on it. The electrodes seem to be very sensitive about skin conductivity.
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