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Category: Brain Injury

Modified Walker

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---- CUSTOMIZED ADAPTATION --------- PURPOSE: To create a custom adaptation of a walker for a 21-year-old woman who sustained a traumatic brain injury at a young age. The woman has difficulty in coordinating her muscles and has significant spasticity in her movements. She worked with her physical therapist and tried several types of walkers but the all were difficult to use because she leaned onto the walker for support which then moved away from her, putting her at risk of falling. Additionally, the young woman had several postural issues that made using a walker difficult. The modified walker incorporated a new handlebar, a ski brake for resistance, a reminder bar for her posture and a walking bar to inhibit crossing of her legs. When the client used the modified walker, she held a handle bar directly facing her, similar to that of a shopping cart. As she walked forward and applied downward force on the bar, the braking system activated and increased the stopping resistance on the walker. This successfully slowed her, prevented her from falling forward, and allowed her to walk independently. Meanwhile, the posture bar corrected the young woman’s posture by preventing her hips from moving too far forward. These changes helped her use the walker independently. The designers used the young woman’s commercially available U-Step walker, which employs a handlebar cable braking system. The brakes worked in a manner similar to bicycle brakes. The young woman activated a brake lever, which pulled on a cable and caused a brake pad to press against the rear wheels on the walker, slowing it down. The brake cables on the U-step met at the front of the walker at a joint called the junction bar. When she activated either hand brake, the cable pulled the junction bar which rotates and activated both brake pads. She could also activate the brakes by pushing down on a curved bar across the front of the walker. This existing bar had a gentle curve which did not allow her to spread her hands widely on the bar. Therefore, a new braking bar that was ergonomically more suitable for the young woman was included, providing a wider grip for Regina to give her more stability. The bar was padded using foam and bike grip tape. When she presses either the brake lever or the braking bar, the brakes would be applied to both rear wheels. However, the braking force was not enough to prevent the lunging of the walker. As a result, a ski brake was included to apply additional braking force. This was made of wood with cushion on the bottom to provide more friction. It rested on the floor and was attached to the front of the walker. A new junction bar is fabricated with an additional metal lever that runs to the top of the ski brake. When the young woman engages the brakes, the junction bar rotates and the lever pressed down on the top of the ski brake, increasing the downward force on the ski, thus increasing the braking force to the walker. Two postural bars were incorporated into the modified walker. A pelvic reminder bar was attached to the walker in front of the young woman facing her hips. During walking, she tended to arch her back and push her hips forward, making her prone to falls. The reminder bar was positioned so that if her hips moved forward, the contact with the bar would remind her to correct her posture. Similarly, the walking bar was positioned horizontally at knee level, connected to the back of the walker, passing between her knees and continuing about two feet past her. The walking bar provided a tactile reminder to her to not rotate her legs. The modified walker greatly improved the client’s ability to walk independently. The posture bars improved the young woman’s walking postures leading to a noticeable improvement in the client’s balance and ability to steer the walker. The cost to develop the device was $153. TITLE: Wheelchair Lawnmower. JOURNAL: NSF 2010 Engineering Senior Design Projects to Aid Persons with Disabilities. REF: Chapter 7: pp. 72-73. PAGES: 3 with cover. 2010. http://nsf-pad.bme.uconn.edu/2010/CHAPTER%207%20DUKE%20UNIVERSITY.pdf.

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as of: 
08/24/2013
Modified Walker

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