LOOK.....I'M WALKING!

By Carolyn Clawson

My legs felt like ten-ton weights.  It was so hard to move them..... until one day I tried on a strange new pair of shoes and literally walked into a whole new world.  My life took on new dimensions, and this is my story.  

It was in 1966 when I discovered I had Multiple Sclerosis.  The first three years were trying as my walking become more difficult.  I resorted to Canadian canes and the wheelchair.  Nothing seemed to stop the downhill trend of the disease.  I gave up all outside activities as taking care of my home and family were all I could cope with.  This too was becoming more and more difficult.

One day, I tried on a friend's pair of shoes.  The shoes were clogs, not something I would have tried on my own, but when she suggested I try them, I found I could stand much easier in them.  I only took a few steps, but something seemed to be different.  On hearing this, she had a pair sent to me two weeks later.  As soon as I put them on, I realized that I could stand without help.  I was using crutches but as I started to walk, I had a strange sensation of gliding, effortlessly!  My legs no longer felt heavy.  I put down my crutches and WALKED!  How could this be?  I felt a miracle had taken place.

Later, when I tried other clogs, I found I couldn't walk in them.  It was then I realized there must have been something different about that first pair.  So the real miracle was not just that I was walking, but that they had unknowingly sent me a pair of clogs with very special dimensions which allowed me to walk.  Mere chance?  Maybe!  

From the first, I felt others with walking problems could also benefit from these shoes.  News spread of my discovery and people soon began asking if they could be helped as well.  I didn't know, but was anxious to find out.  I obtained a few pair of the same brand of clogs to experiment with, and my great adventure began.  

My hunch was correct!  It did help..... some, more than others.  It certainly didn't cure M.S., but with the shoes there was much less fatigue, easier mobility and longer endurance.  Much to my amazement, many types of problems were helped besides M.S., things I hadn't even thought of such as: arthritis, fracture problems, cerebral palsy and stroke.  My excitement mounted as I saw my miracle repeated though not usually with the dramatic results I had experienced.  I could see I had stumbled onto something which could be of great value in the field of rehabilitation but there were so many questions which needed to be answered.  How did this shoe allow us to walk easier?  Why were some helped and others not?  Why did one kind of clog work while others, which looked the same, did not?  I needed help and couldn't rest until I found it.  

None of the medical professionals in my surrounding area had been able to answer my questions.  Finally, I was directed to Dr. Jacquelin Perry, an orthopedic surgeon with a particular interest in the field of kinesiology.  She was the Chief of Patho-kinesiology Service at the Rancho Los Amigos Hospital in Downey, California.  After a long wait, I was able to get an appointment and flew to California.  Testing was done which provided interesting information which aided Dr. Perry in unraveling the mystery of the rocker shoe.  She became very interested in my project and has been an integral part of it since then.  She advised and gave counsel as I continued to work with individuals.

Later, through means of a grant given by the V.A. Prosthetic Center in New York, she was able to do a clinical study which provided data necessary to write a medical paper.  

In the spring of 1978, I was faced with a problem I had feared for years.  A small change had been made in the shoe's sole which made them useless for those of us with walking problems.  I knew the time had come for me to go to Denmark as it was imperative the manufacturer be aware of what he was dealing with.  When they saw what their shoe could accomplish..... they were astounded!  From then on, they were more than willing to work with me in designing a more easily fitted shoe.  They also realized the importance of total accuracy in the wooden sole as this was the most critical factor.  It took eighteen months before the newly designed shoe was available.  It was used for the first time at a pilot training seminar in Toms River, New Jersey and proved to be more successful than anticipated.  

In 1979, Dr. Perry gave an oral presentation on, "The Rocker Shoe as a Walking Aid for Multiple Sclerosis," to the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine.  Later, in February of 1981, a paper was published in the ARCHIVES OF PHYSICAL MEDICINE AND REHABILITATION.  I now felt the information was in good hands.  

I went back to being a housewife and mother.  Much to my frustration, However,three years went by and nothing had been done to get the information to the people needing it.  I realized if they were to know of it, I would have to take it to them.  My work had really just begun, as the biggest battle was yet to be fought.  The big question was how to go about it.  With the help of my son and the media, we started holding clinics where we could work directly with those who had walking problems.  As people started walking, they took the information to their doctors and therapists and by seeing their own patients' improvement, the medical community became interested.

Over the next 2 years, 24 clinics were held in various states.  We worked with approximately 2,000 people with a 50 percent success rate. The first national exposure came through HOUR MAGAZINE on March 6, 1986, and due to the overwhelming response, a second segment was aired on April 15, 1986.  Over 50,000 calls and letters were received from viewers showing the tremendous need for this discovery.  This created a demand making continued marketing research and development feasible.  We are currently developing children's shoes as they also have problems which can be helped by this shoe.  The future promises to be exciting!  

When I look over the last fifteen years, I am amazed all this could have happened to me.....an ordinary housewife from a small town in Idaho.  It has been a tremendous learning experience.  To see others given the opportunity to walk again as I had, has made the whole thing worthwhile. There is no greater freedom than the ability to walk.  

Carolyn P. Clawson

Copyright 1986

 
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