12 frequently asked questions about the gait trainer NF-Walker
If you consider a gait trainer, and you aren’t familiar with the NF-Walker, you probably have many questions. We have gathered the most frequently asked questions and hope the answers given here will be helpful in your search for the most suitable gait training device for your child or someone you care for.
12 frequently asked question about the NF-Walker
- Who can benefit from using the NF-Walker as a gait trainer?
- What can I expect of benefits from using the gait trainer?
- Is there a need of independent mobility or ability to stand to use the NF-Walker?
- What is the difference between the NF-Walker and other walkers?
- Does the NF-Walker allow the child to weight-bear?
- How do I know if my child has the potential to learn to walk in the NF-Walker?
- How long do you recommend my child uses the NF-Walker at a time?
- Does my child need to use another static standing device in addition to using the NF-Walker?
- My child has scoliosis and also some limitations in joint mobility. Is it possible to adapt the NF-Walker for this?
- How do I transfer my child in and out of the NF-Walker?
- What level of service should I expect to maintain the product?
- How do I get hold of an NF-Walker to my child?
1. Who can benefit from using the NF-Walker as a gait trainer?
NF-Walker is designed specifically for children and young people with limited or no ability to move independently (non-ambulatory). The device offers more support compared to a typical walking aid. It works by safely supporting the child in an upright standing position. In addition, it stimulates independent walking and participation in daily activities. The device can assist people with a wide range of medical conditions such as:
- cerebral palsy
- syndromes such as Rett syndrome and trisomy 21
- spinal cord injury
- spina bifida
- traumatic brain injury
2. What can I expect of benefits from using the gait trainer?
The NF-Walker enables children, even with very low motor function, to stand and walk independently. This initiates better social interaction and participation in everyday activities. In addition, through more mobility the level of physical activity is increased and time spent being sedentary reduced, which has shown to have positive health effects.
3. Is there a need of independent mobility or ability to stand to use the
No. The device is designed to encourage safe and comfortable motor development with good body support and postural alignment. So, there’s no need for the child to be able to stand and move independently.
Read also: Delay in walking? A success story
4. What is the difference between the NF-Walker and other walkers?
Walking aids have the purpose of compensating for a disability by giving support to walk and allowing for greater freedom and independence by getting around. Typical walkers are used when the person is able to partly support oneself and has the potential to learn to walk independently or with light support. A gait trainer, like the NF-Walker, offers more support and is suitable when theres is a need of support in multiple areas.
Among gait trainers, the NF-Walker's uniqueness is the bracing system, which gives the child exceptional support and correction of both the lower and upper body. This allows the child to stand in a good, individually adapted starting position for independent walking. The custom-fit brace keeps the joints in the correct alignment while walking.
5. Does the NF-Walker allow the child to weight-bear?
There is not a seat to sit on, so yes, the child will bear weight through their feet. However, the amount of weight your child will bear depends on how upright the child can be. The straighter the position, the more weight-bearing is performed by the child. Weight-bearing activity is particularly important for building and maintaining healthy bones.
6. How do I know if my child has the potential to learn to walk in the NF-Walker?
Walking is a complex movement. Our product specialists will custom-fit the gait trainer to achieve a successful walking motion. However, the child's strength and physical limitations will of course impact potential mobility. It can take time for the child to find its own way of walking and to build enough strength to master the skill. Some are able to walk during the first fitting, while others advance little by little. Walking requires a minimum ability to manage “active standing.” Often, the child needs to master active standing first.
Read also: Which product suits my child?
7. How long do you recommend my child uses the NF-Walker at a time?
NF-Walker is a gait trainer, and the aim is to give the child an opportunity to develop independent movement in an upright position. It should be used in daily activities together with peers to stimulate activity and participation. When it comes to recommendations for being in a standing position, research indicates a minimum of 1 hour/day. This total can be divided into 2-3 shorter sessions throughout the day. So, for example, the child might undertake 3 sessions lasting for 20 minutes each time. However, the amount of time spent in the NF-Walker should always be adapted and continuously evaluated in accordance to the child’s current health condition.
8. Does my child need to use another static standing device in addition to using the NF-Walker?
A child’s complete standing program should always be discussed with a clinician who has the knowledge about your child's specific needs. General guidelines recommend aiming for daily standing. This means it might be necessary to have different devices available to meet the child’s practical needs. However, many clinicians believe that the NF-Walker serves as a standing and movement device, thereby covering both static and dynamic standing requirements.
9. My child has scoliosis and also some limitations in joint mobility.
Is it possible to adapt the NF-Walker for this?
Yes, to some extent it’s possible to support misalignment due to scoliosis or reduced joint mobility. However, an individual assessment might be necessary to decide on the best solution. In some cases, it helps to use a brace or other dynamic upper-body supports to improve positioning and increase the comfort for the child. In case of limitations in joint mobility, the NF-Walker’s exceptional flexible system will address the need for individual adjustment and allow the child to stand and walk.
10. How do I transfer my child or the one I care for in and out of the NF-Walker?
There are several methods for transferring the child in and out of the gait trainer. We offer both a seat and lifting straps (hoist/personal lifter) as accessories to customise your lifting system. A product specialist, delivering the NF-Walker to the child, will train you and other caregivers on how to use the product safely to avoid injuring either the child or yourself. The product specialist will also, together with you, find the most appropriate way to transfer the child into the device.
11. What level of service should I expect to maintain the product?
As the NF-Walker is a personal assistive device and customised for individual use, it requires regular aftercare service. This to ensure the gait trainer is correctly adjusted for the user as they change due to factors such as growth or altered functioning.
12. How do I get hold of an NF-Walker to my child or the one I care for?
The system for reimbursement when purchasing assistive devices varies from country to country. We recommend that you start by contacting your local Made for Movement office or distributor for more advice on how to proceed. If we are not represented in your country of residence, you can contact our head office in Norway directly.
First published March 22, 2018.
Rikke Damkjær Moen brings many years of experience as clinical physiotherapist to the Made for Movement team. Her mission is to ensure that everybody, regardless of mobility problems, should be able to experience the joy and health benefits of physical activity. As our Medical Manager, Rikke is passionate about sharing knowledge so that individuals with special needs, families, and clinicians can discover the possibilities and solutions provided by Made for Movement.
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