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).
Nearly 500,000 people over the age of 65 fall every year. The consequences for these seniors are both physical and psychological and are extremely damaging. How can this risk be prevented? With Pierre-Emmanuel Bercegeay, founder of Ouihelp, Innorehab takes stock of the priorities for addressing this key issue.
450,000 people over the age of 65 fall every year. 37% require hospitalisation. Studies also show that these domestic accidents contribute greatly to the fragility of the individuals concerned: the risk of falling is multiplied by 20 after a first fall. Under these conditions, preventing this type of accident is a key aspect of the well-being and maintenance of the autonomy of senior citizens.
Here are 4 ways to avoid falling at home.
The fact is that the risk of falling increases with age. Because ageing leads to a loss of musculature and less adaptation to external perceptions, senior citizens are the first to be affected. These falls have a major impact on the quality of life of the people concerned. A report on the subject, commissioned by the French National Authority for Health (HAS), stresses the consequences for an elderly person, often including "a fracture of the upper end of the femur, which is indirectly responsible for a high mortality rate in the months that follow". Independently of this risk, such accidents have a strong psychological impact: they generate anxiety and reduce self-confidence.
1. Awareness and anticipation
How to act in the face of this risk? The fact is that it is never easy to become aware of one's fragility. However, anticipation is a determining factor. At the age of 65, as at 90, it is essential to be attentive, for oneself as well as for one's family, to the warning signs. Starting with the first of these: encountering difficulties in performing gestures in a 100% autonomous manner. "The challenge is to take measures beforehand, rather than afterwards, once dependency has set in," says Pierre-Emmanuel Bercegeay, founder of OuiHelp, a company specialising in home help for dependent elderly people. One of the keys is that family carers need to better understand and accept what is possible and necessary to support their loved ones. In fact, the risk of falling is increased by both internal factors (illness, reduced physical capacity, treatment, etc.) and external factors, such as slipping outside or in the living room.
2. Adapting your home to limit the risks
Falls at home are often linked to inadequate home design. Adapting a home therefore starts with turning a bathtub into a shower. Removing slippery objects, installing a lighted pathway to find your way around at night: these measures can be decisive. For optimal support, it is possible to call on the services of an occupational therapist, a specialist who will rethink the layout of the home to create the conditions for long-term home support.
3. Using a walking aid
Awareness is the key to being able to benefit from support. Recognising that you need help to move around is a first step towards saving your life. Made of wood, metal, English... the cane has been used for several centuries. Although it requires only one hand to handle, it has the disadvantage of having to be lifted with each step and is therefore by nature an intermittent solution. Other aids have appeared in recent decades, such as walking frames (gadot, stand, walker, etc.) or with wheels (rollators, walkers). These solutions greatly improve balance, but have the disadvantage of requiring two able-bodied upper limbs and having a volume that prevents them from being used in small spaces. This observation led to the launch in 2018 of a third way, combining the qualities of the rollator and the cane: the Wheeleo. The first quadripod cane with wheels, a real one-handed walker, its use greatly limits the risk of falling, by offering a new walking experience.
4. Calling for personalised help
As a preventive measure, if the risk is significant, one option for frail people may be to receive human support. A home help company can provide valuable support to a person whose physical abilities are declining. Pierre-Emmanuel Bercegeay explains: "The home care assistant can carry out all sorts of tasks, à la carte: doing the shopping, accompanying the person to medical appointments in particular, coming in the morning and evening to help with getting up and going to bed, or providing, with others, round-the-clock support. Depending on the person's situation, it can provide valuable support in addition to the many other forms of assistance available.
For more information of the Wheeleo: see here.
 HAS : Prevention of accidental falls in the elderly - Recommendations; November 2005