In order to cope with locomotor deficiencies that make it difficult to move around, the use of a mobility aid is often necessary. It promotes easier, more comfortable, more stable, more functional and more normal movement. These aids have the capacity to alleviate these deficiencies to provide more functionality. They can be useful both in the recovery phase (rehabilitation) to optimise and accelerate recovery (short term), and in the sequelae phase to compensate for a reduction in capacity (medium and long term).
At all ages and for a long time now, these mobility aids contribute to the well-being of the person with reduced mobility and help reduce falls.
Until recently, various canes have been able to prove the benefits of their use. Whether simple, crutches, English, wooden, metal, ... they have been used for centuries! These canes have the advantage of requiring only one hand to handle, but they require good coordination. As they have to be lifted with each step, they offer only intermittent assistance.
This loss of support can lead to instability, discomfort, slower speed, falls, pain or to gait defects to counterbalance this difficulty(3-step walking).
A few decades ago, walking frames (gadot, stand, walker, ...) appeared which, like canes, have to be lifted with each step. Over time, these frames were equipped with wheels. At first 2 wheels and 2 caps (often replaced by the traditional tennis balls), before being completely wheeled (rollators/walkers). The latter provide constant support throughout the walking cycle, improving fluidity (two-step walking), walking speed, balance, endurance, walking quality and safety. It is clear that rollators have conquered the world of technical aids, despite the fear that 4 wheels generate. They have become part of our habits and there is no longer any doubt about their usefulness (in 2017 more than 40,000 rollators were reimbursed in Belgium). Unfortunately, they require two able-bodied upper limbs to guide them and their bulk makes them difficult to use in confined spaces.
2018, evolution is on the way! After several years without any major evolution in mobility aids, a new walking aid combining the qualities of the rollator and the cane has been launched: The Wheeleo. It combines the constant support of the rollator (100% of the walking cycle) with the small size and one-handed operation of the cane. Developed by Geoffroy Dellicour, physiotherapist at the CHNWL, it was initially proposed to hemiplegic people but was quickly used in many other situations: senior citizens, neurology, paediatrics, rheumatology, orthopaedics, etc.
The Wheeleo is the first quadripod cane with wheels. It offers a walking experience that no other aid provides.
Advantage of the Wheeleo over a conventional rod:
- No coordination is required: it moves forward and positions itself naturally where the user needs it. During simple walking and changes of direction, the user can lean on it safely and concentrate on his activity without being disturbed by its manipulation.
- It stands upright when dropped (to pick up and handle an object) whereas a conventional cane can fall over when placed against a wall and create a significant risk of falling when picked up.
- It reduces the stresses of walking: the constant support reduces the effects of the stresses the body undergoes during support. Walking is less painful and more comfortable.
- It provides permanent assistance (100% of the walking time) and allows a clear improvement in balance.
- It makes walking more efficient: With the same energy, the person covers a greater distance. This means less fatigue in daily walking.
- Gaitparameters can be significantly improved: stride length, frequency, symmetry, speed, loading and straightening
Advantage of the Wheeleo over a rollator:
- It can be easily used in a small space such as a house or a flat (between two armchairs, ...) whereas the rollator is often far too bulky to be handled indoors.
- It can be operated with one hand, even during manoeuvres, whereas the rollator requires the use of two hands. It leaves one hand free to open a door, carry and handle an object.
The Wheeleo is now an integral part of mobility aids. It will be used according to the conditions of use, the abilities of the person and their needs (or the therapeutic objectives set).