Foot problems·Orthosis

If the shoe fits, then the brace will also fit

Treatment in cases of dorsiflexor muscle weakness

From Bauerfeind Life Magazin on 21.11.2023

In short The Xtern Summit and Xtern Frontier ankle foot braces made by the Canadian company Turbomed Orthotics are true innovations: they are attached to the outside of the shoe. They are based on several years of development by François Coté, mechanical design engineer and himself a patient suffering from weak dorsiflexor muscles, and Stéphane Savard, orthotist and entrepreneur. They share their philosophy with Bauerfeind wanting to enable patients to have an active life, so they established a partnership for sales in Germany.

  • Both models are attached to the calf and with clips to solid shoes, from boots to sandals.
  • For patients with difficulty grasping, for example following a stroke, the Frontier model can be put on with one hand and is secured with a magnetic closure.
  • If the shoe fits, then the brace will also fit: the brace can usually be fitted by an orthotist during just one appointment.
  • The Turbomed braces are listed in the Statutory Health Insurance Medical Aids Directory in Germany.

With the Xtern summit and Xtern frontier by the Canadian company Turbomed Orthotics, Bauerfeind is selling innovative braces provided by a different manufacturer in Germany for the first time. In their interview, François Coté and Stéphane Savard, the two company founders, explain their new treatment approach for physiological gait: Xtern ankle foot braces are attached to the outside of the shoe. This grants additional flexibility and allows a wider spectrum of mobility during everyday activities and exercise.

life: Where did the inspiration for this radical new invention come from?

François Côté: In 2001, I had a serious accident which left me with peroneal nerve palsy on the left. I quickly became unhappy with braces where I had to put rigid, hard inlays into the footbed of my shoes: they didn’t promote natural gait, they bothered me during exercise, and they were rubbing on my skin. I didn’t want to wear that type of thing for the rest of my life. I’m a mechanical design engineer and I know about designing and material science. I tested prototypes for five years. The fact that this turned into a marketable product is thanks to Stéphane. I was a customer at his medical supply retail store and we got talking. He is an orthotist and the entrepreneur of our team.

With his brace, Turbomed co-founder François Côté is active despite the weakness of his foot.

Stéphane Savard: I was immediately convinced by François’ approach: he didn’t just improve a few details on what already existed but he completely rethought the entire idea. We founded Turbomed Orthotics in 2010 and literally had a garage company at François’ home.

„Our philosophy connects us with Bauerfeind. We’re always looking for the best possible solution so patients can stay active.“

Stéphane Savard, founding member and owner of Turbomed Orthotics

What is so innovative about your braces?

François Côté: The fact that the brace isn’t worn inside the shoe as with traditional designs. Stéphane as the treating orthotist and I as a patient knew the weaknesses of traditional braces all too well: they often lift the foot too much, the sole is rigid, they don’t always offer sufficient lateral stability, ruin shoes, and require complex rework and adjustment. All that doesn’t have to be the case. The Xtern braces are attached to the outside of the shoe, so if the shoe fits, then the brace will also fit.

Are the Xtern braces primarily intended for very active patients?

Stéphane Savard: Not at all. Everyday mobility and a lower risk of falling mean a better quality of life for all patients with weak dorsiflexor muscles. Using the Xtern, they can be more flexible about trying out how active they want to be. We have developed the Xtern frontier for patients who have difficulty donning a brace with tension because of restricted motor skills of the hands, for example caused by a stroke. It can be put on with just one hand and is secured with a magnetic closure. 

François Côté: We fully focus on what can be done. With the Xtern braces, you can drive a car, run a marathon, go ice-skating, dancing, hiking, play golf, go cross-country skiing…

Stéphane Savard: It’s an adaptable solution for different types of patients. Weak dorsiflexor muscles can have many causes: accidents, trapped nerves, hip surgery, or intervertebral disk prolapse. Multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, or a stroke. And case numbers are rising in any aging society.

How complex is the fitting process performed by the orthotist?

Stéphane Savard: Everything can usually be taken care of during one appointment because patients quickly get to grips with our external braces. The constant touching up or grinding of a sole isn’t needed at all for example.

François Côté: We should mention that patients can use their shoes with orthopedic foot braces that have already been individually adapted because there’s nothing additional that takes up space in the shoe. That’s a big advantage. 

Are there indications where these braces do not help patients? 

François Côté: There is a small number, such as a stiff ankle, advanced spasticity, or weak ligaments. Some muscle strength is required for the spring effect to support dorsal extension.

What connects Turbomed and Bauerfeind?

Stéphane Savard: Our philosophy. Just like us, Bauerfeind is always looking for the best possible solution so patients can stay active. As a business, we were at a point where we needed a bigger company with developed sales structures by our side. Bauerfeind is the right partner for us.

What patient situation has touched you the most?

Stéphane Savard: I’m thinking of a fire fighter who seriously twisted his knees during an emergency. He wasn’t able to run up and down slopes and stairs anymore so he lost his job at the age of 30. Then he found Turbomed… And after he easily passed all endurance tests with the Xtern brace on the outside of his boots, he got his job back!

Cooperation for innovative treatment quality

Turbomed Orthotics and Bauerfeind have established a partnership for the sale and marketing of the two dynamic ankle foot braces Xtern summit and Xtern frontier. Turbomed Orthotics is the manufacturer and the distributing company. Bauerfeind AG is the importer and sales partner for the German market. The Bauerfeind Field Sales Team provides information and advice on the patented product innovations, organizes training for orthopedic fitting, and offers special test braces from the manufacturer for measurement and size determination.

The Xtern models summit and frontier are listed in the Statutory Health Insurance Medical Aids Directory in Germany.
Xtern summit: 23.03.02.6038
Xtern frontier: 23.03.02.6039

More information about Xtern braces and Turbomed Orthotics at turbomedorthotics.com.

More informationen

No more falling, being able to move backwards, finally wearing woolly socks again – Christiane Fraatz, patient with peroneal nerve palsy, regained with the Xtern summit more freedom of movement and is sharing her experiences.

Bilder: Turbomed Orthotics, privat

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