Calling all Healthcare Professionals – Flexyfoot has been trialled and tested by the medical community and we get great feedback from GPs, physical therapists, community healthcare visitors and sports therapists.
Information for Healthcare Professionals
The following content outlines key information about the Flexyfoot for healthcare professionals.
The Mobility DLF fact sheet on choosing walking equipment recognises the use of shock-absorbing ferrules, indicating that they may be ‘particularly appropriate for people who are full-time users of crutches’. It also indicates the importance of monitoring and replacing the ferrules as part of general walking aid care.
ATcare user trials carried out from July to November 2009 were very positive and gave evidence of the potential benefits of the Flexyfoot ferrule. 100% of the participants felt that Flexyfoot would improve their walking experience with positive reactions mainly focused around ‘pain relief’ and ‘increased grip’.
The importance of ferrules
In research published in the British Medical Journal, 60 patients took part in a survey to assess the safety and suitability of their walking sticks. 23 of the sticks had ‘badly worn or loose ferrules’ and considerable wear was common for patients who had not been assessed and were therefore not being followed by a physical therapist. This result identifies a clear need for improved awareness of – and access to – replacement ferrules. Many older people obtain their walking aids from informal sources and a study published in June 2009 found that 47,000 senior citizens in the USA end up in A&E each year due to falls from improper use and fitting of walkers and canes.
The multiple benefits of pain relief
Studies have shown that your wrist receives from one to more than three times your body weight when using crutches, a load the upper body was never designed to sustain. Spring loaded or shock absorbing crutches or ferrules can reduce this load by 24% when compared to standard crutches. This means less strain on joints, which in turn can reduce the risk of added complications associated with longer-term crutch use.
In the trial report, ATcare concluded that: ‘The use of Flexyfoot is likely to reduce the impulse and rate of force rise, which may decrease the likelihood of developing complications associated with long-term walking equipment use. It is likely and has been shown in the Flexyfoot user trial that the use of Flexyfoot will provide increased comfort.’ ATcare also recommended that care be taken with patients suffering from neuromuscular conditions as Flexyfoot’s increased flexibility may cause them some stability problems.
Walking offers both psychological and physiological advantages that a person cannot gain through sitting or even using wheeled mobility. Regular exercise can help with any number of ailments so, encouraging the use of walking aids as an incentive to keeping fitter for longer has long-term advantages.
ATcare user trials
ATcare is an independent body set up with a £2.75M budget from the London Development Agency to help develop and advise on assistive technology. Individuals were recruited to represent the two target groups that may realise the most benefit from the Flexyfoot ferrule: walking stick and crutch users. The eligibility criteria for participation were (1) Individuals with at least 3 month’s experience of walking with either a stick or crutch and (2) who were likely to need assistive walking equipment on an ongoing basis.
The first stage was focus group sessions where participants were asked about their experience of walking aids and opinions of the Flexyfoot ferrule. Participants were then provided with prototypes to use at home. Feedback was extremely positive:
“It’s nice to have a bit of bounce. Much more comfortable.”
“Just being able to turn does make a big difference. I like it.”
“Great grip, even in the wet – easy to fit.”
“The pain in the shoulder and under my arm has improved.”
“Flexyfoot is silent – good if you have wooden floors and people underneath!”
“I feel better and can walk freely over rough surfaces.”
More information on ATcare, Transforming lives through technology can be found at www.atcare.co.uk