A gait trainer is an assistive device similar to a walker, but it provides additional trunk and pelvic support. The NF-Walker is a gait trainer primarily used by children with severe disabilities enabling upright standing and walking. Here you can learn about the main benefits of using the NF-Walker.
- What is the purpose of a gait trainer?
- Who can benefit from a gait trainer?
- How to use the gait trainer NF-Walker in everyday life
- What are the 4 main benefits of using the NF-Walker?
What is the purpose of a gait trainer?
A gait trainer is an assistive device like a typical walker, but it provides more support around your child’s body to enable standing and walking. There are several supporting points around the trunk and the pelvis, and the device can also have a supporting seat or like on the NF-Walker a bracing system for the legs. The bracing system on the NF-Walker is unique and makes the device differ from other gait trainers. There is no support seat to sit on, allowing the child to bear their own weight through their legs.
Who can benefit from a gait trainer?
Gait trainers are typically used when the child is not able to consistently bear full weight through the legs and needs additional support to stand and take steps independently. They can be used by children diagnosed with cerebral palsy, GMFCS level IV and V, Rett Syndrome or other syndromes, or traumatic brain injury.
How to use the gait trainer NF-Walker in everyday life
The NF-Walker as a gait trainer offers independent mobility in a corrected and supported standing position. The support system is adapted to fit your child's needs and can gradually be changed to initiate and stimulate motor function. It provides the child with the opportunity to build postural strength and stability and reciprocal leg movement for stepping.
Children love to play and be with friends and family. It is recommended to use the gait trainer when playing and during everyday activities. It can be used in outdoor activities with peers or while cooking in the play kitchen. What about letting your child join you while shopping? The child can easily hold on to shopping cart when standing in the NF-Walker. This can be great fun and the best part is that your child is training many skills during this activity.
What are the 4 main benefits of using the NF-Walker
First and foremost, the NF-Walker enables independent mobility in an upright standing position. By being able to move around with their hands free, your child can more easily participate in and perform different activities. The NF-Walker can be used by children aged as early as 12 months old, which gives your child a unique opportunity to explore their surroundings as they grow up.
Increased physical activity and reduced sedentary time
For children with disabilities, reaching moderate activity levels can be quite a challenge. Research suggests that low-intensity physical activity is a lot healthier than constant sedentary behaviour.
Children with disabilities are therefore likely to experience health benefits by increasing their time being physical active and breaking up sedentary time. This is achieved through training and moving in an upright, weight-bearing position, which provides maximum muscle stretch and reduces spasticity and muscle deformities.
Facilitating physical activity is beneficial for many things, including:
- Respiration and circulation: Being in an elevated position helps to extend the trunk, allowing more space to expand and contract, thus making it easier for the child to breath. The standing position also helps to improve the circulatory system.
- Gastrointestinal function: The effect of gravity in a standing position, in addition to the stretching of the torso and tilting of the pelvis, are believed to stimulate the gastrointestinal function.
- Bone mineral density: The elevated position facilitates greater movement within the muscular system and has been shown to have a positive influence on bone mineral density.
- Muscles and joints: Movement helps to improve muscle tone, muscle strength and stability, as well as maintaining the range of motion in joints.
NF-Walker can be a great attribution to a more active lifestyle and to help reducing sedentary behaviour. Prolonged sedentary behaviour has a negative impact on the overall health, as it affects several health-related areas such as reflex activity, skin integrity, bowel and bladder function, joint range of motion, and overall wellbeing.
Increased social interactions
Being in an upright position, not to mention being able to move independently around, gives your child an opportunity to interact with others. It enables children to play, participate, and communicate with peers at eye level, which can create a better sense of control, safety and connection. Having the ability to participate in social interactions can also lead to a higher sense of well-being for your child.
Studies have shown that a standing position has positive effects on self-esteem and self-image, as the child can communicate with their companions in a more natural way.
In addition, active standing helps improve mental alertness by changing the child’s perspective from their usual sitting position. Children with cerebral palsy have shown to score significantly higher in cognitive tests when stimulated by a standing position, rather than sitting. Being able to experience movement also seems to activate different parts of the brain.
Do you want to learn even more about the NF-Walker? Here, you can download brochures about NF-Walker.
- Glickman LB, Geigle PR, Paleg GS, J Pediatr Rehabil Med. 3(3):197-213, 2010.
- G.S. Paleg, B.A. Smith, L.B. Glickman, Systematic Review and Evidence-Based clinical Recommendation for Doing of Pediatric. Supported Standing Programs, Pediatric Physical Therapy 25(3):232-247, 2013
- J.J. Eng, S.M. Levins et al: Use of prolonged standing for individuals with spinal cord injury, Physical Therapy Journal, August 2001 81(8): 1392-1399
- O.Verschuren, V. Leferink, J. Darrah, Muscle activation and energy-requirements for varying postures in children and adolescents with cerebral palsy, J Pediatr. 2014 November; 165(5): 1011-1016
- O.Verschuren, M.D. Peterson, A.C.J. Balemans, E.A. Hurvitz, Exercise and physical activity recommendations for people with cerebral palsy, Dev. Med child Neurol., 2016 Feb 7. doi: 10.1111/dmcn.13053
- T.W. Pin, Effectiveness of static weight-bearing exercises in children with cerebral palsy, Pediatr Phys Ther. 2007 spring; 19(1):62-74
Last updated May 24, 2022.
The author worked as Head of Marketing for Made for Movement for 7 years before she pursued other adventures in her own company. Trine Roald has over 20 years of international experience within a variety of industries. As Head of Marketing for Made for Movement she was passionate about communicating stories and know-how featuring possibilities for improving the quality of life among people with severe disabilities.
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