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Study: Weight issues move up need for walkers, canes, other devices
Date:7/28/2010

and disabled also fuels a vicious cycle. When you are functionally limited, physical activity is restricted, thereby burning fewer calories, which may lead to additional weight gain. This is another reminder that body weight matters throughout the life course."

Obesity is defined as more than 30 on the body mass index scale, which is a formula that takes height and weight into account. Study participants considered overweight, with a body mass index between 25 and 29.9, did not have the same need for assistive devices. However, the researchers caution that being overweight is a risk factor for obesity, and weight management for a healthy body mass is important.

Researchers also note that when used improperly, the intended assistive solution could make the problem worse. That is why it is important to consult with a health-care professional, such as a physical therapist, about how and when a device should be used, Ferraro said.

"You can buy these devices almost anywhere - home improvement stores, discount stores or the pharmacy. It's big business," he said. "These older adults, or even their adult children or other caregivers, are just trying to cope by helping adapt to physical changes, but there is no substitute for proper use of the devices. When deciding between a stationary walker and one with wheels, it's best to consult with a specialist to receive the proper fitting and training. It could be dangerous to use or install something improperly, which could even lead to a fall."

Pressler also said there is sometimes a concern about using a device too soon because a mobility tool, such as a walker, could lead to loss of lower body function if used before it is needed.

The idea for this study was sparked by Pressler's observations when she lived in a retirement center for two years as part of Purdue's gerontology program. She will be launching another study to evaluate the social aspect of assistive devices such as how s
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Contact: Amy Patterson Neubert
apatterson@purdue.edu
765-494-9723
Purdue University
Source:Eurekalert

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