The Story Behind The Aligned As Designed 3rd Foot Cane

Traditional mobility devices, canes, crutches, walking sticks and walkers let you maintain balance. What they don't do is engage your core muscles or maintain your body's natural alignment. The longer you use them the more bent over you become because you're forcing your body to be misaligned and moved in ways it was never designed for.

 

 My training is in applied human biomechanics. The study of motion, force, momentum, balance, and the internal and external forces of gravitation as it relates to the body's movement, motion and alignment. I am a Black Belt in the martial arts styles of Kung Fu, WuShu and Escrima.

 I began my martial arts and Qigong training in my twenties with Sifu K and Master Wong and my Defendo training with Bill Underwood at the age of twelve.

In January of 2013 I was training for my 2nd Degree Black Belt in Wushu when a SUV crashed into the driver's side door of my car. Over the next two years I would undergo multiple surgeries and procedures followed by eight long post-op and recovery periods before relearning how to walk.

I was continually told by my surgeons that I had unreasonable and unrealistic expectations regarding my long-term prognosis. That I would never walk upright or normally again. What almost everyone including my physicians, surgeons and physical therapists didn't understand was that I didn't believe, nor did I expect my surgeries, procedures, and PT to return my broken, twisted, disabled body to the way it was before the accident. I expected my surgeries and procedures to give me an opportunity to use my training to regain my body's alignment. When your body maintains alignment it maintain balance and engages and strengthens your core muscles as you move.

When I couldn't find a cane or a crutch with a foot that maintained the body's natural alignment, upright posture and stability when walking forward, backward and turning, I built myself a cane and a crutch with a foot that would. Letting me reach and exceed all my unreasonable and unrealistic expectations.

The cane and the crutch foot that I invented are Patented in United States, Canada and China to maintain and help regain the body's natural alignment and an upright, stable walking gait.

Martial Arts

In martial arts, dance, and most competitive sports you're taught that practice makes permanent. That the quality of the quantity of what you practice needs to maintain the body's alignment for what you practice to keep improving, and for you to progress. You practice something until you think you know it, then you keep practicing it until it knows you. When what you're practicing flows out of you without thinking and connects one movement to another you will have you developed procedural memory that is automatic and maintains your body's alignment and stability when moving. 

In martial arts there is always a Plan. That Plan is what allows you to start as a White Belt and become a Black Belt. I understood the day I started relearning how to walk that it didn't matter how strong I once was or what I could do up until the day of the accident.  What mattered was how I was going to start at the weakest point in my body and use my training to regain my body's alignment.

I began a monthly movement and motion journal. The monthly movement and motion journal helped me to chart my progress and understand how to adapt the standing, walking, sitting and stretching exercises that I created based on my decades of martial arts and Qigong training. I now teach people who use The 3rd Foot Cane how to to chart their progress using the same monthly journal. Every exercise I did at home and at PT was done on both sides of my body and not just the injured side. Because of my martial arts and Qigong training I understood that the two sides of my body needed to be rehabbed together from the weakest point for my body to regain stable movement, motion and to regain the alignment of my twisted, damaged spine and leg. I didn't have a weak side and a strong side like I was continuously told. I had an underloaded injured side and an overloaded side. My overloaded uninjured side was becoming weaker and weaker from being continuously overloaded and my underloaded injured side was stopping the two sides of my body from working together to connect my movement and motion and engage my core muscles that could regain and maintain my body's alignment.

 Inside the Dojo there is no such thing as a weak side and a strong side and every exercise is done on both sides of your body allowing you to generate stable, balanced, movement and motion that engages and strengthens your core muscles as you move.

 

Procedural memory is a form of muscle memory from which the neural pathways in our brain that make motor behavior automatic are formed. When movement is restricted, changed or altered for a continuous length of time without interruption the neural pathways that make motor behavior automatic are changed. To quote Dr. Davis, an orthopedic surgeon, "Use it or lose it." In other words, practice, good or bad makes permanent. You are the way you walk!

You can eat the best food in the world and have the best healthcare, but If you walk with your head down and the top of the inside of your arm or arms extended away from your side using a cane, crutch, walking stick or walker handle to maintain balance you will become more and more bent over with time because you're failing to maintain the natural alignment of the spine and the rest of the body. If you walk upright and stay upright and your body maintains alignment you engage and strengthen your core muscles as you walk. You become more upright, stable and stronger with time because you're moving your body the way it was designed to be aligned and moved to engage your core muscles.

My surgeon made sure that my left leg was straight and the same length as my right leg when he finished my leg surgery. During the next three and a half months my left leg was bent, locked in a brace with my foot off the ground non weight bearing. The crutches continuously misaligned, positioned and forced my leg, spine and the rest of healing body to be aligned and moved in ways it was never designed for. The muscles between my hip and knee lengthened and the ones between my knee and foot shortened including my Achilles tendon. 

When I started relearning how to walk without crutches on April 1st, of 2015 my left leg was bent, twisted and an inch longer than my right. My Achilles’ tendon had shortened from being off the ground for three and a half months and my left heel didn't touch the ground when I stood or walked. I had a different length step, stride, and gait on each side of my body. Each step I took was painful and awkward. This was not a result of my car accident, but the result of the mobility devices that failed to keep my healing body aligned and moving the way it was designed to be aligned and moved. I developed drop foot from my foot being off the ground and from the nerve damage in my leg from the car accident. The front of my left foot didn't bend normally and there were places on the outside edge of my left foot that I couldn’t feel when I walked and when I was on the stairs.

I created a series of foot and leg exercises based on the footwork drills I had learned and taught inside the Dojo. I did the exercises using my cane foot that I invented and my foot together to help lengthen, strengthen and realign the 26 bones and 33 joints in my twisted foot and bent leg.


After all of my surgeries and procedures I would complain to my physician husband daily that the crutches, leg brace, arm slings and other mobility devices were bankrupting the opportunity that my surgeons had given me by forcing my healing body to be continuously misaligned, moved and positioned in ways it was never designed for. I would tell my husband almost nightly how the top of the inside of your arms were designed to stay next to your sides when they moved to maintain the alignment of your spine and the rest of your body and to engage your core muscles. That your arms and hands were not designed to be extended outward away from your sides when walking without creating injury and physical disability throughout your entire body. That traditional crutch and cane feet didn’t have the same proportions as the foot and couldn't support or maintain balance, upright posture and the alignment of your body like a foot. That the crutches and other mobility devices were creating injury and secondary physical disability with each step that I or anyone else took.

When I briefly used traditional canes and walking sticks after I started relearning how to walk, I would complain to my husband that you can't use a crutch, cane or walking stick handle to maintain balance without your spine losing its alignment, your head becoming positioned in front of the rest of your body and your walking stride becoming too small and too short for your feet to contact the ground from heel to toe and engage your core muscles. That no one had ever developed, maintained or regained an upright, stable walking gait by continuously forcing their body to be misaligned and moved in the ways that traditional canes, crutches, walking sticks and walkers force the body to be aligned, moved and positioned.

 When I told my husband after I started walking that my surgeon had told me that I would never walk upright or normally again.  He asked me what I had said to him? I told him that I said,  I wasn't born walking and I wasn't born a Black Belt. My husband said you know more human biomechanics then I do and I'm a physician. You know how to build things. Stop complaining about the crutches, canes, walkers and walking sticks and use your knowledge of human biomechanics to build a new kind of mobility devices. Ones that move with the body on the outside of the leg with the arms next to sides and can maintain the spine's natural alignment and the stability of the body when walking, turning, stepping backward. That can help you and other people regain, maintain or develop an upright, stable walking gait.

Inventing a better cane

I had spent decades prior to the car accident watching how and the way people move. Learning how to spot physical strength and weakness from the way people moved and aligned their body. Unlike all other cane, walking stick and crutches that use the handle to maintain balance with the arm extended away from the side I designed my cane and crutch foot with the same proportions and anatomical ridges on the bottom of cane and crutch foot as the human foot. Allowing my cane and crutch foot to move with the body and maintain the body's balance and natural alignment. The 3rd Foot Cane and Crutch foot move the same way as the foot. From heel to toe or back to front when walking forward. From toe to heel or front to back when walking backward. The 3rd Foot Cane and Crutch foot maintain balance, stability and upright posture on the front of the cane and crutch foot like a foot does when turning something that no other cane or crutch foot can do.

I walk upright and without a cane despite the prognosis I was given after my car accident. This is because of great surgeons and the 3rd Foot Cane that allowed me and now thousands of other like me to regain an upright, stable, heel to toe walking gait that maintains the body's alignment and allows the body to move the way it was designed to be aligned and moved to engage the core muscles when walking forward, backward and turning.

The 3rd Foot Cane was chosen by The West Coast Consortium For Technology And Innovation as a 2020 Portfolio Member. The Patented Fabric Topped 3rd Foot Crutch that I invented is Sold Out. We expect the next small shipment of the 3rd Foot Crutch in July of 2024 and a larger shipment in the Fall of 2024.

In 2021 I was included in Think and Zoom Future of Disability — Global list of Disabled Innovators.

Ardra Shepard included the 3rd Foot Cane to be part of her 2023 Mobility Aids 101: How To Cope, What To Get and to be part of her 2021 Gift Guide for People With MS.

Kent Jones that_guy_with_ms, uses The 3rd Foot Cane. You can see his Customer videos on the Homepage of him using The 3rd Foot Cane and follow his progress after using The 3rd Foot Cane for over 2 years in the second video.