About 12% are living with an ambulatory disability in Puerto Rico.
Ambulatory disability refers to a disability in which a person has an unsteady gait. Moving from one place to another without the aid of a wheelchair is impossible because of paralysis or loss of function of the legs.
There are devices nowadays, though, that can help in maintaining upright ambulation and providing stability, reducing lower-limb loading, and generating movement. They can “act” as muscles, joints, pelvis, and legs.
One such walking aid is the cane. It is held in the hand and transmits loads to the floor through a shaft.
Another one is the crutch. It also transmits loads to the ground through a shaft but it has two points the arm can have contact with: at the hand and either below the elbow or below the armpit. As such, “significantly greater loads” can be exerted in comparison with a cane.
The global market today, however, has combined the capacities of a crutch and a cane. One’s body weight can already be supported through some bands that encircle the upper arms and handles for the patient to hold and rest their hands onto.
A walker (otherwise known as a Zimmer frame) is the most stable walking aid around. It is comprised of a freestanding metal framework with three or more fixed rubber ferrules, making it an excellent option for patients with poor balance and/or less upper body strength.
Four years ago, a “walker cane hybrid” was designed to bridge the gap between a cane and a walker. It has two legs and can be used with either one or two hands—at the front and at the side—providing greater lateral support.
Recently, however, another technology has begun to be trialed in Spain, Italy, and England. It’s called the “FriWalk” (“Friendly Robot Walker”) and uses cameras and special pressure-sensitive insoles to measure the mood, gait and stability of users. The insoles are worn inside the shoes and can process 15 to 20 frames-per-second on a “virtual walkway.” They are custom-made and pressure-sensitive, enabling doctors and health workers to both monitor recovery from injury and watch out for potential health issues in the future.
It has navigational aids and social alerts as well. It can act as a personal trainer (just like the Apple Watch or the Fitbit); literally warn about the obstacles and dangers those with less-than-perfect vision or unsteady on their feet cannot see on their own; and send out notifications about nearby events and activities outdoors.
“Mistakes are a fact of life. It’s the response to the error that counts.” ~ Nikki Giovanni
Video taken from the YouTube Channel of Mobility Stirling