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Percept Mot Skills. 2013 Feb;116(1):223-32.

Vertical force and wrist deviation angle in a sample of elderly people using walkers.

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Tatung University, Taiwan.


Walkers are frequently used by elderly people with weak lower limbs and limited balance, but the ergonomic relationship between the use of a walker and stress on the upper limbs is relatively unstudied. The current study assessed wrist deviation and vertical force among elderly individuals using a walker for assistance in walking. 60 elderly volunteers (M age = 81.0 yr., SD = 8.8) participated, 30 of whom frequently used a walker, and 30 who had no such prior experience. Data were obtained from four load cells and a twin-axis wrist goniometer during assisted ambulation using the walker. No significant group difference was found in gait cycle. Significant wrist deviation occurred, with ulnar deviation/dorsiflexion of the right hand, which was greater than that of the left. Non-experienced participants had larger dorsiflexion than experienced participants. Experienced participants produced larger vertical force than non-experienced participants. The greaterthe wrist deviation, the greater was the vertical force. The horizontal handles of most marketed walkers cause wrist deviations. This is a concern for users, clinicians, and related industries. Improvements in walker design should be considered.

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