Don Forte was affected with polio as a young child. Unlike many individuals who were affected with polio during the 1940’s and 50’s, Don has lived the majority of his life without any adverse side effects. In 2003 Don was working for Princeton University as a toolmaker when one day he experienced a fall. Don had never been told about post polio syndrome and didn’t recognize the trouble he was beginning to have for what it was. He went on to experience close to a dozen more falls before beginning to seek help.
Don was referred to Dr. Mary Ann Keenan at The University of Pennsylvania Hospital. Dr. Keenan is an orthopedic surgeon, specializing in the management of post-polio-syndrome. Originally, an AFO (Ankle Foot Orthosis) was prescribed for Don’s left leg to help stabilize his leg and prevent him from falling. It wasn’t long before it was realized the AFO wasn’t providing enough support and Don would need to be fit with a KAFO (Knee-Ankle-Foot-Orthosis). Dr. Keenan prescribed the USS Knee joint for Don’s KAFO and he was originally fit with his brace in 2004.
Don has gone through several changes with his braces over the last few years but has always been pleased with the benefits the USS knee joint allows him. The joint allows him to have motion and stability at the same time. One of the changes Don has gone through is that he’s gone from wearing one brace, to now wearing two. Not only was Don’s left side beginning to experience weakness and instability, but also his right. Fortunately, Don’s right side is currently able to be effectively managed with an AFO.
After the USS Ankle joint was introduced in 2006, Don was one of the first individuals to be fit with this new component. He had been experiencing pain and discomfort on his right side from his old AFO only allowing a few degrees of motion. Within the first week of Don wearing his new AFO with the USS ankle joint, he experienced complete relief from the discomfort he was having. Like the knee component, the USS AFO allowed Don the ability to maintain ROM (Range Of Motion) while walking, yet feel stabilized by the dynamic restraint.
Currently Don is wearing an Ultraflex KAFO on his left leg utilizing both the USS knee and ankle components and an Ultraflex AFO on his right leg, utilizing the USS ankle component only. Both orthoses have been fabricated using carbon composite technology. This technology helps to minimize the weight of the orthoses, while maximizing the mechanical benefits of the components. Don has the following to say about his Ultraflex braces:
“When I went to the Ultraflex brace there was a tremendous difference. The improvement was like night and day. I had no trouble using it right away. The USS fits great and is so smooth and comfortable I feel like I don’t have a problem. It’s easier to walk more naturally and gives me good control and doesn’t tire me or cause me any pain. I can do the things I like; they’re easier to handle. I have a woodshop and I can stand all I need, in fact I forget I have it on and my wife reminds me to sit down. I have great flexibility with USS.”
View video of Don walking in his UltraSafeStep