Aging Clinical and Experimental Research

, Volume 28, Issue 2, pp 215–220 | Cite as

Problems of older persons using a wheeled walker

  • Ulrich LindemannEmail author
  • Michael Schwenk
  • Jochen Klenk
  • Max Kessler
  • Michael Weyrich
  • Franziska Kurz
  • Clemens Becker
Original Article



Wheeled walkers (WWs) are used to improve mobility and for fall prevention in older persons, but not all users are satisfied with the usability of WWs. Intelligent WWs are being developed to improve the usability.


The aim of this study was to support the development of intelligent WWs by investigating possible problems of using a WW.


This study investigated 22 geriatric in-patients (median age 82 years) with and without their WW while opening a door against the direction of walking and passing through. Other possible problems when using WWs were identified by interview.


Walking through the door was faster without than with using the WW (8.71 versus 12.86 s, p < 0.001), while interference between door and WW was documented in 41 of 44 (93 %) cases. Backward walking performance was better when using a WW with regard to gait speed, step width and walk ratio (all p < 0.002). Most referred problems when using a WW were walking downhill (83 %) and uphill (77 %) and obstacle crossing in general (77 %).


Problems with opening a door against the direction of walking and the optimization of downhill and uphill walking as well as obstacle crossing should be regarded when developing an intelligent WW.


Door Older persons Usability Wheeled walker 



The authors thank Aaron Haslbauer, Karin Kampe and Elisabeth Petrias for data collection and technical support and the authors thank Aileen Currie for proofreading the manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

This work was supported by the Robert Bosch Foundation as the owner of the Robert-Bosch-Hospital where the study was conducted. The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical standards

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ulrich Lindemann
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Michael Schwenk
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jochen Klenk
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Max Kessler
    • 4
  • Michael Weyrich
    • 2
    • 4
  • Franziska Kurz
    • 1
  • Clemens Becker
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Geriatrics and Clinic for Geriatric RehabilitationRobert-Bosch-HospitalStuttgartGermany
  2. 2.University Stuttgart Research Initiative Human Factors in Ageing, Technology and EnvironmentStuttgartGermany
  3. 3.Institute of EpidemiologyUlm UniversityUlmGermany
  4. 4.Institute for Automation and Software EngineeringUniversity of StuttgartStuttgartGermany

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