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Wheelchair News, Issue #015 Experimental Drug May Help Dogs With Spinal Cord Injuries
August 05, 2012

Mobility, Safety And Alzheimer’s

Using a standard walker with advanced staged Alzheimer’s can be a challenge. Those individuals in long term care settings are at risk for increased fractures or increased contractures if they are in wheelchairs and like to wander the halls all of their waking hours.

What Is The Right Combination?

Finding the right combination of mobility with the least amount of cost can be challenging. There are not many chairs on the market, if any that reduce the risk of falls, promote good posture and decrease the risk of skin breakdown for this population that like to use only their feet.

I have a client who is non-verbal most of the time, nods her head in agreement to all communication, and “slouches” in her wheelchair.

Her current setup is a 16” wide standard wheelchair with an Invacare propel back, using an anti-thrust contour cushion to promote proper posture.

She propels herself using her feet only and it doesn’t seem to matter what setup she has or the fact that the wheelchair is low enough to the ground, she continues to scoot her bottom forward in the chair.

Mobility One Way Or Another

My thought is that this is a comfortable position for her vision (she wears bifocals) as she is seated and most others that interact with her are staff that are ambulatory.

She can reach the floor with her feet when she is seated. She does not use her arms to help propel herself at all. She does have good arm motion but likes to use her legs instead.

Occupational therapy has attempted training sessions and positioning sessions with her, but she continues to scoot her bottom forward in the chair.

Dignity Issue

Some facility staff feel the “merry walker” is a dignity issue. Is it not a dignity issue with decreased mobility? In their defense she is an elopement risk as she continues to try to go out the front door.

She has a seat alarm, personal body alarm and a facility ankle alarm. Numerous times a day she wants to go outside and has gotten as far as the front walk, which has a downhill slope. The family wishes to keep her in this facility although the problem of her mobility doesn’t seem to be improving.

I feel as do my co-workers that she would be more mobile and happier if she could use a merry walker at times for ambulation as well as for overall general health in a facility that specializes with this population.

Because she has been limited in mobility she at times becomes more restless with increased weakness and decreased balance. Her safety judgment is poor and keeping her mobile and safe poses a great challenge. She is an otherwise pleasant and cooperative lady.

The facility does not want to purchase any chair for her. I am now awaiting the response from her spouse and checking in to the cost of a fairly new chair on the market that may have some limited success called a “scoot chair” for lack of better words.


Although one can spend hundreds to thousands of dollars on different types of equipment from merry walkers to special wheelchairs there are no guarantees that anything will work. There are risks of falls and injuries with any type of mobility equipment.



Phone: 319-572-2745

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