About Beth

This blog follows Beth Deloria, a veteran marathoner showing the world that her neuromuscular disorder can be beaten!

"Fall seven times, get up eight." -Japanese Proverb

Beth Deloria competed in 20+ half-marathons in 2012 to encourage the hundreds of thousands of people with foot drop to reclaim their lives.    

In 2004, severe spinal trauma and subsequent surgery left Beth Deloria with nerve damage that made her unable to flex her left ankle and raise the front portion of her foot.  This condition, known as foot drop, was devastating for the devout distance runner, who had competed in major marathon events from Chicago to Boston. 

With the help of a special orthotic brace, Beth prevented foot drop from becoming an obstacle in her life. Now she’s using her experience to inspire those affected by the disorder not to let it steal their quality of life. To underscore her message, from 2012-2013, Beth competed in 48 half-marathons in 24 months thanks to the ToeOFF® brace to encourage the hundreds of thousands of people with foot drop to reclaim their lives. Many of the 13.1 mile events are part of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series. But her journey has not stopped.  She is continuing to run in 2014 with more opportunities to spread her message.

            “Knowing that my capability declined from running 26 miles to having difficulty walking without tripping was just as much a psychological injury as it was a physical issue,” Beth says. “That’s what thousands of Americans are facing as they come to terms with foot drop—there can be an enormous emotional toll when losing the ability to control your foot and ankle muscles prevents you from getting around well enough to live your life.”

In medical terms, foot drop is a neuromuscular condition caused by  weakness or paralysis of the muscles that flex the foot upward at the ankle.  It can affect one or both feet, and can be permanent or temporary, depending on the cause.  There are numerous possible causes for foot drop, including stroke, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, some forms of spinal muscular atrophy, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease), injury to the nerve roots in the spine, acquired peripheral neuropathy (often associated with diabetes), or compression or damage to the peroneal nerve in the lower leg.

People with foot drop typically experience mobility difficulty because without intervention, they often scuff their toes along the ground, swing the leg to the side as they walk, or bend their knees to lift their foot higher than usual, causing an uncomfortable walking motion called a “steppage” gait.

As she recovered from her surgery seven years ago, Beth tried the molded plastic orthotic braces often prescribed to remedy the mobility issues related to  foot drop. Finding the devices too heavy and cumbersome to permit full mobility, Beth feared her running days were over. “The prospect of losing an important part of my life because of foot drop was extremely depressing,” Beth says. “I was left with the feeling that foot drop had changed who I was as a person.”

Beth tirelessly searched for other options until she eventually found the ToeOffÒ brace, a technologically advanced, carbon fiber orthotic device designed to mimic the biophysical movement of the muscles in her legs and feet.  The results were dramatic—after four months training with the new brace, Beth ran the Chicago Marathon in the lowest time she had ever recorded for a 26.2-mile race.

Her continued race quest is part of a strengthened commitment for Beth as the Director of Community Outreach for Allard USA, the company that manufactures ToeOFF and other technologically sophisticated braces and orthotic devices.  But her message goes beyond her professional role.  Beth reports,  “I know from personal experience the importance of preventing foot drop from taking away the things you want to do in life.  Allard made it possible for me to be a runner again, and now Allard is making it possible for me to help others, not just runners but all people affected with foot drop.   For 5 years I traveled around the world to conferences, trying to reach as many as I could to tell them what might be possible for them.  But I was limited in how much I could do because I still had to work to support myself.  By offering me this new position, Allard freed me to devote all of my energy to fulfill my dream to help others with foot drop get their lives back.”

Follow Beth on Twitter @GetBackUpToday and at Facebook.com/GetBackUpToday