Assessment of rolling walkers used by older adults in senior-living communities

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Abstract

Aim:

Rolling walkers (RW) are among the most common ambulatory devices used in senior-living communities. However, many observational studies have associated RW use with an increased risk of falling. Studies on how older RW users obtain and use their RW are lacking. Therefore, this study's purpose was to provide information about RW use that can aid clinical professionals in understanding how to educate RW users.

Methods:

Data was gathered from 158 RW users (≥65 years old) who had used their RW for an approximate mean of 24 months. Assessment utilized questionnaires, inspections and demonstrations.

Results:

Almost 80% of all participants obtained an RW without consultation with a medical professional (61% through their own means; 19% through medical professionals without receiving instruction or demonstration). The most common misuse was incorrect RW height (55%). Maintenance problems were observed in approximately 17% of the RW. All users admitted that their walkers had not been rechecked by medical professionals since they had obtained them. Forward-leaning posture was apparent in participants during static standing (40%) and during ambulation (50%). Forward-leaning posture during ambulation seemed to be more problematic in causing falls.

Conclusion:

Lack to consult a medical professional when obtaining an RW, incorrect RW height, poor RW maintenance and forward-leaning posture were problems commonly identified. This knowledge could assist medical professionals in implementing strategies to address these problems.

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