Feasibility and Effect of Gait Training with Assistance from a Motorized Wheelchair with Built-in Bodyweight Support Frame on the Balance and Walking Ability of Elderly Individuals with a Risk of Falling
Keywords:elderly, risk of falling, leg weakness, motorized wheelchairs
Objectives: To study the feasibility and effect of gait training with assistance from a motorized wheelchair with a built-in bodyweight support frame (MW-BWSF) on the balance and walking ability of elderly individuals with a risk of falling.
Study design: Experimental study.
Setting: Rehabilitation clinic, Department of Rehabilitation, Songkhla Hospital, Thailand.
Subjects: Elderly individuals aged 60 years or older at rehabilitation clinic, Songkhla hospital between March 2022 and February 2023.
Methods: This experimental trial involved elderly individuals aged 60 years or older with minimal leg muscle weakness or who were at risk of falling. The participants were trained with assistance from the MW-BWSF for eight sessions over four weeks. Gait speed, step length, Time Up and Go Test (TUGT), and Berg Balance Scale (BBS) were assessed three times: before the start of the program, at the end of the fourth training session, and the end of the eighth training session.
Results: A total of 22 elderly individuals participated in the study. The gait training with the MW-BWSF showed a statistically significant improvement in gait speed, step length, TUGT, and BBS score after the eight sessions. The total distance walked during training also increased significantly. The participants reported high satisfaction with the device and with the training method.
Conclusions: The study demonstrated the feasibility and effectiveness of gait training with assistance from the MW-BWSF in improving the balance and walking ability of elderly individuals with a risk of falling. This innovative technology has the potential for use as an assistive device for training at home which would also reduce the burden on public healthcare.
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