Wendy Garrett, co-captain of TeamUP — a national team of athletes and others who live with foot drop paralysis—will be competing in her fifth Boston Marathon on Saturday, April 15.
Garrett, 40, is no stranger to accomplishing the unthinkable. From competitive gymnastics to running all six major world marathons, she has filled her life with numerous athletic achievements – even after a tragic accident left her without the use of her left leg, according to orthotics and prosthetics provider Allard USA, in a media release.
In 2008, Wendy’s adventurous spirit led her to the opportunity of a lifetime when she was hired to coach gymnastics on the tropical island of Bermuda. Three years later, while riding to work on her motorized scooter, she was sideswiped by a car and left pinned underneath her bike. She immediately did not have use of her left leg, and despite her initial diagnosis of a sprained ankle, Garrett said, “I knew that my injury was far more serious.”
Wendy returned home to Oregon and began an aggressive journey to find answers as to why she was left with a debilitating weakness in her upper body and the inability to move or control her left leg. But like many others experiencing leg-related mobility issues, the only solution doctors could provide was a heavy, clunky walking boot that limited her mobility even further.
Determined to find a solution that would allow her to return to her active lifestyle, Wendy continued to seek advice from doctors and specialists. It wasn’t until her 25th attempt that she found a doctor who properly diagnosed her with an incomplete spinal cord injury at L4 and a spinal syrinx in her neck. This diagnosis pinpointed that an injury to the involuntary muscles in her leg prevented blood from circulating in that area, resulting in a condition called Foot Drop, the release explains.
Foot Drop is a form of paralysis that affects the foot and ankle and makes walking and running extremely difficult (if not altogether impossible) without proper bracing. While it is not known exactly how many people in the world have Foot Drop, the condition is thought to affect millions of people, as it is caused by a variety of underlying conditions such as spinal cord injury, Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT), Multiple Sclerosis and Stroke. As challenging as these conditions are, it is the onset of Foot Drop paralysis that ultimately robs people of their mobility.
Through strenuous physical therapy, Wendy regained 75% of the use of her upper leg, which allowed her to be prescribed her first ankle-foot orthotic (AFO) brace made by Allard USA. From running marathons around the world to becoming a fitness instructor and every endeavor in between, Wendy’s Allard ToeOFF brace has allowed her to slowly but surely rebuild the active lifestyle that was such a significant part of her life prior to her accident.
TeamUP co-captains support the “Get Back UP Today” movement, which is designed to inspire those with mobility issues to take back their lives. Through this exclusive platform, Wendy will now be able to share her story with others around the world to help them beat Foot Drop and “get back up today.” She will even be running alongside Beth Deloria, the founder of who also has foot drop due to spinal cord injury, in Boston, per the release.
[Source: Allard USA]