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More MS news articles for October 2003

New technical advances in swivel walkers

Prosthet Orthot Int. 2003 Aug;27(2):132-8
Stallard J, Lomas B, Woollam P, Farmer IR, Jones N, Poiner R, Miller K.
Orthotic Research & Locomotor Assessment Unit (ORLAU), Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic and District Hospital NHS Trust, Oswestry, Shropshire, UK.

Swivel walkers were commonly prescribed for children with complete thoracic lesion myelomeningocele in the 1970s and 80s, when the incidence of spina bifida in the UK was of the order of 3 per 100,000 live births.

The advent of reciprocal walking orthoses provided a more suitable alternative for those with good upper limb and trunk function, and swivel walkers were then used primarily for very young or more severely disabled patients.

Pre-natal screening has dramatically reduced the incidence of spina bifida in the UK and subsequently swivel walkers have been used in a wider range of pathology, including spinal muscular atrophy, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy and other neurological conditions that lead to lower limb dysfunction.

The detail design of these devices has been adapted to accommodate the specific problems encountered in these conditions.

In particular the designs have been updated to: enable very young patients to be more readily fitted at the age of 1 year; allow the walking mechanisms to be conveniently adjusted for easier ambulation when weakness or lack of confidence inhibits performance; permit simple adjustment to a standing frame mode to enhance stability in situations of increased risk; promote manual handling practice that is compatible with the National Health Service (NHS) policy of compliance with relevant regulations.

To underpin appropriate prescription and safe supply the NHS Procurement Agency have encouraged the development of a common course for all types of swivel walker.