Innovation in walking aids: a solution for specific needs


To cope with musculoskeletal impairments that make it difficult to move around, it is often necessary to use a mobility aid. It makes travel easier, more comfortable, more stable, more functional and closer to normal. These aids have the capacity to alleviate these deficiencies and provide greater functionality. They can be useful both in the recovery phase (rehabilitation), to optimize and accelerate recovery (short term), and in the after-effect phase, to compensate for reduced capacity (medium and long term).

At every stage of life, and for many years already, these mobility aids contribute to the well-being of people with reduced mobility and help to reduce falls.

Until recently, various rods were able to prove the benefits of their use. Whether simple, crutch, English, wooden or metal, they’ve been used for centuries! These canes have the advantage of requiring only one hand to handle, but they do require good coordination. As they have to be lifted with every step, they offer only intermittent assistance.

This loss of support can generate instability, discomfort, slower speeds, falls and pain, or lead to gait faults to counterbalance this difficulty (3-step walking).

A few decades ago, we introduced walking frames (gadot, tribune, walker, etc.) which, like walking sticks, have to be lifted with each step. Over the years, these frames have been fitted with castors. At first, 2 wheels and 2 stoppers (often replaced by traditional tennis balls), before being completely wheeled (rollators/walkers). These provide constant support throughout the gait cycle, improving fluidity (2-step gait), walking speed, balance, endurance, gait quality and safety. It’s clear that rollators have conquered the world of technical aids, despite the fear that 4-wheelers generate. They’ve become part of our daily routine, and there’s no longer any doubt about their usefulness (in 2017, over 40,000 walkers were reimbursed in Belgium). Unfortunately, they require two able-bodied upper limbs for guidance, and their bulk makes them difficult to use in confined spaces.

2018, evolution is on the move! After several years without any major developments in mobility aids, a new walking aid combining the qualities of a rollator and cane has seen the light of day: The Wheeleo®. It combines the constant support of the rollator (100% of the gait cycle) with the space-saving, one-handed operation of the cane. Developed by Geoffroy Dellicour, physiotherapist at CHNWL, it was initially proposed for hemiplegics, but was soon used in many other situations: senior citizens, neurology, pediatrics, rheumatology, orthopedics, etc.

Wheeleo® is the first cane walker. It offers a walking experience that no other aid can provide.

Legend: Classification of mobility aids according to two criteria: constant/intermittent support and single/two-handed operation. Wheeleo® is the only mobility aid that provides constant support on the ground (the advantage of a rollator) and can be operated with one hand (the advantage of a cane).

Advantages of Wheeleo over a conventional rod :

  • No need for coordination: it moves forward and positions itself naturally where its user needs it. When walking or changing direction, the user can safely lean on it and concentrate on his activity without being disturbed by its handling.
  • It stands upright when dropped (to pick up and handle an object), whereas a conventional cane can fall over when placed against a wall, creating a significant risk of falling when picked up.
  • It reduces the stresses of walking: constant weight-bearing reduces the effects of the stresses the body undergoes during weight-bearing. Walking is less painful and more comfortable.
  • It provides permanent assistance (100% of walking time) and significantly improves balance.
  • It promotes more efficient walking: with the same energy, the person covers a greater distance. As a result, she tires less in her daily travels.

Gait parameters can be significantly improved: step length, frequency, symmetry, speed, loading and straightening.

Advantages of Wheeleo over a rollator :

  • It can easily be used in a confined space such as a home or apartment (between two armchairs, etc.), whereas a rollator is often far too cumbersome to handle indoors.
  • It can be operated with one hand, even during maneuvers, whereas the rollator requires the use of two hands. It leaves one hand free to open a door, carry and handle an object.

Wheeleo® is now an integral part of our mobility aids. It will be used according to the conditions of use, the person’s abilities and needs (or the therapeutic objectives set).

Geoffroy Dellicour

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