Unsafe use of Mobility Devices, especially wheeled walkers

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The use of a wheeled walker to improve mobility is a wonderful thing but when the use of the walker becomes more of a hazard than an aid, what should you do? A few years ago, I was at a restaurant waiting for my order when I noticed an elderly woman trying to ambulate with what appeared to be a very old / unstable Riva Walker (for those who can remember the green and blue machines). Being a gentleman first and an OT second, I assisted the lady to negotiate a few hazards and allowed her to reach her designated table. I started talking to Mrs. X and she told me that she is having more and more difficulties walking, but more so using her ‘green machine’. I could not help but asked who had prescribed the device. She indicated that it was given to her but she did not know where it came from – that thing was from the late 80’s early 90’s with faulty brakes and cracked tires. I advised her that my observations revealed that using this device could actually be detrimental and unsafe for her. She thanked me and asked me how she could remain safe ambulating. I simply told her that she had to get rid of her ‘green machine’ and go to a local vendor to find a more suitable one so that she could remain strong and fit to continue to manage her daily life. I gave her some options with local vendors and indicated to her that the government would pay up to 75% of the cost of a new one (ADP Program). She asked me how I knew all of this information. I simply slipped her a card and waited for her call to complete what I had started…

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Jean is a fully qualified Occupational Therapist licensed to practice in Canada and registered with the College of Occupational Therapists of Ontario (COTO).

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