Antoine Zaczyk is a physiotherapist and rehabilitation manager at L'ESPOIR, a functional rehabilitation center located near Lille. Involved in innovation, he uses the Wheeleo® for the rehabilitation of several of his patients.
Here is his feedback.
First of all, could you introduce yourself and the structure where you work?
I am a physiotherapist by training and I have been practicing as a private practitioner for several years, accompanying more particularly patients with neurological disorders. Since 2019, I have been working at the Centre de rééducation et de réadaptation fonctionnelles L'ESPOIR as a physiotherapist and in the Research-Innovation-Development unit. Technological watch, tests, research projects... Our team leads a transversal reflection on the evolution of the practices to help the patients and the professionals who accompany them.
You had the opportunity to use the Wheeleo®. Can you explain the principle of it to us?
Yes, I bought a Wheeleo® in 2019 and was able to use it in my practice. The principle is quite simple: it is a new generation walking aid companion. The main benefit is that the patient can move around without having to lift what could also be called a "walker-cane". The result is a clear gain in fluidity, with greater ease in respecting the necessary times as well as the liberation of a hand to carry small objects.
From your experience, what needs can the Wheeleo® meet?
The Wheeleo®, like any technical aid, does not meet the needs of all patients. Patients with severe attentional or cognitive disorders are often not able to use it. However, it is a relevant solution to improve the movement abilities of a number of profiles from the beginning of the treatment. Because the fact is that once a patient has established habits, it is difficult to change them. In order to gain confidence, it might be interesting to train with a Wheeleo® from the beginning.
For which profiles is this solution the most relevant?
The choice is necessarily made on a case by case basis, depending on the patient's pathology, but also on his needs and personal feelings. For example, it could be someone who has difficulty walking following a stroke, who has balance problems due to poor control of a lower limb or a loss of sensitivity in the foot. I had a patient who fit this profile who gained a lot of fluidity by using this walker. The same goes for a patient with Parkinson's disease and postural problems with a Pisa syndrome - posture tilted to one side. With the Wheeleo®, she was able to move independently in her apartment with the ability to grasp small objects, which was not the case with a 2-wheel rollator.
In fact, no matter what the pathology is, it is mainly people who suffer from paralysis or paresis on one side of the body, mainly due to neurological disorders. I am obviously only talking about the patients I have the opportunity to rehabilitate. Cane, rollator, Wheeleo®... To make a choice, it is necessary to evaluate beforehand the executive and attentional disorders of the patients, the risk taking, their capacity to evolve in autonomy. And I would like to specify that I have not yet had the opportunity to test two canes, one on each side, to verify if this formula could be relevant for certain patients.
What are the differences in use with a cane or a rollator?
A unilaterally disabled patient with a simple cane with a skate will walk slower than with the Wheeleo® and have less endurance - the cane requires more effort and concentration. Also, it offers a smoother gait than the tripod or quadripod cane.
What about the handling of the Wheeleo® by the patient?
Depending on the associated cognitive disorders, an adaptation time of at least one or two sessions is necessary. If a patient has difficulties to lift his foot for example, it is necessary to compensate with an orthesis that will maintain it, or to help him to focus on it so that he finds the right rhythm. For example, a patient who had a stroke a few weeks earlier will have difficulty putting weight on his leg. The professional will have to prepare him, to stand in support, so that he dares to put weight on his leg, and preferably as soon as possible to promote recovery.
The presence of wheels makes some people fear that the Wheeleo® will cause loss of balance
The Wheeleo® seems very stable to me. It can sometimes move away a little, but I have never seen it topple over. The important thing is that the patient understands that he has to keep it close to him. The main point of attention is on the paretic side of the body: as the walk is "faster", more fluid, it is necessary to make sure that the other leg follows. The professional will have to be careful to be well situated in relation to the patient to avoid this risk in the beginning. But there is nothing to prevent you from moving forward slowly to get your bearings.
The important thing is, I think, to try this new technical aid. We must not put aside a solution that could prove beneficial for a certain number of patients. Especially since, contrary to what one might think, the risk does not appear to be greater than with another cane. It is an interesting complementary offer compared to the classic cane or rollator range.