Fall-related injuries are a major and growing global health problem. Walking aids are prescribed to older people to help improve their stability and mobility, however, it is a paradox that users remain at an increased risk of falling. We argue that for a walking aid to prevent a fall it must be used in a stable manner. To better understand what constitutes stable use of walking aids we:
- Developed a novel way to assess stability in walking aid users: our approach treats the person and their device as a single, moving system .
- Established proof-of-concept and feasibility for assessing stability of walking aid users in the gait laboratory and in a simulated home environment, and piloted a reduced system in users own home [2,3,4].
- Developed a first biofeedback software for clinicians and performed market research.
- Are presently using our approach to develop a novel biomechanics-informed walking frame in collaboration with a manufacturer.
It is our long-term aim to improve prescription, user guidance and design of walking aids. First biomechanics-informed guidance materials and academic publications are available here.
Funding: Dowager Countess Eleanor Peel Trust 2013; Pathway to Excellence PhD Studentship 2015-2018; Dunhill Medical Trust 2017-2018; Dowager Countess Eleanor Peel Trust 2018; Greater Manchester Academic Health Science Network 2018; Innovate UK Knowledge Transfer Partnership 2020-2022
The team: Dr Sibylle Thies, Mr Callum Watt, Professor Laurence Kenney, Professor Dave Howard, Professor Malcolm Granat, plus industry partners and collaborators at Oxford Brookes and Liverpool University.
Click the links below to learn more about projects in this area.