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Problems of older persons using a wheeled walker

Abstract

Background

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.

Aims

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

Methods

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.

Results

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 %).

Conclusions

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.

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Acknowledgments

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.

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Correspondence to Ulrich Lindemann.

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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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Lindemann, U., Schwenk, M., Klenk, J. et al. Problems of older persons using a wheeled walker. Aging Clin Exp Res 28, 215–220 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40520-015-0410-8

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Keywords

  • Door
  • Older persons
  • Usability
  • Wheeled walker