Conventional Walkers and Pediatric Gait Trainers are basically seats on wheels. The user is lifted into the device by caregivers and the device is adjusted to place a seat or harness at a height that allows the user to either stand or “sit“ in an upright position. When the user chooses to stand they must bear all of their weight on their legs. When the user chooses to “sit“ the device will bear all of their weight. While some users can use this device as the name implies, i.e., to be re-trained to walk, the device has serious limitations. Many users, especially those with cognitive issues, discover that they can propel themselves forward by resting their weight on the seat or sling (“sitting“ in an upright position) and pushing their legs backwards in a “sculling“ motion. While this provides some ability for the user to exercise their lower extremities, the “gait“ they begin to learn can actually be counterproductive when trying to return to a normal walking gait. Further users with limited leg strength who might be able to walk with a correct gait if they received partial weight bearing support find that they have no trunk support with the Walkers and Gait Trainers.
Comparing To The Up n’ Free
The Up n’ Free is not just another gait trainer, it’s also a partial weight bearing device and a dynamic body weight support system. To begin with, the Up n’ Free allows for much improved therapy in pre-walking activities. Improved posture, dynamic balancing and hip flexure and lower extremity strength can all be worked on while the user is supported by the Up n’ Free. When the user is ready to walk, the support provided by the Up n’ Free remains constant while the user’s trunk is allowed to move slightly up and down with each walking step.
It has been our experience that many young users of conventional gait trainers outgrow the device as they grow in size and weight. This is because their leg strength is insufficient for them to carry their weight when they are not actually ’sitting’ on the device. At this point their only alternative is wheelchair use. Because the Up n’ Free supplements the users leg strength, in many cases they are able to walk. So while the Up n’ Free can allow a user to sit when the user is tired, it also helps the user, making the user less tired when walking.
In addition the support of the Up n’ Free can be used in raising the user from a sitting position to a standing position thus eliminating the need for caregivers to use their own strength to transfer the user.
Gait Trainers and the Up n’ Free are available at about the same price.