Text: Bjørn Kollerud, Handikapnytt ("Handicap News") September 2019
When you suffer from cerebral palsy and reduced gait function, it can be challenging to have your bedroom on the second floor. Peder (8 1⁄2) is able to get upstairs to his bedroom, but not by walking upright and not without help. That is something his family wanted to change. His parents started to research mobility aids which could help their son become more independent in his daily life.
- "We were looking for a solution that would help him to climb the stairs on his own and that made sure he was safe when walking down the stairs. We want for him to develop skills to live more independently even though he has a reduced and declining gait function.", explains his mother Hanne Therese Åsbø.
The solution came after a lot of research when they found the AssiStep on Facebook. It is a new product developed in Norway that was mainly used in public institutions at that time. AssiStep is a «rollator for stairs» which can be installed in both straight and curved stairs. The concept consists of a rail mounted on the wall, but it is the user who mechanically moves the ergonomically designed handle attached to the rail forward. You can use a handrail as a support and move steadily up and down at your own pace and according to your own abilities.
The Åsbø-family made an appointment to test the AssiStep and were positively surprised. The supplier installed a demo version with some steps, and it all seemed promising.
- "We applied for financial reimbursement with the Norwegan health care system and got a positive feedback. The supplier took measures of our stairs and installed the stair climber in our stairs. It went very well", explains Hanne Therese.
Peder has now been using the device for two years to get to the second floor and down again.
- "This is absolutely super. We are very pleased with the solution and his physical development after we got this installed in our house", tells Hanne Therese.
Grandparents as inspiration
The story behind AssiStep started with three civil engineering students at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim, who were to carry out a project assignment in 2012. They had seen how their grandparents struggled to climb stairs and wanted to develop solutions that could make a difference.
- "After mapping out what was on the market, we decided to create something completely new. This is how work began on what was to become AssiStep", explains the founder and CEO of AssiTech AS, Halvor Wold.
It was a long and arduous process, but counterbacks are there to overcome.
- "You have to have the guts and the stamina. We have been raising money on the internet. In addition, investors, funds, NAV (Norwegian Resource Center for aids) and NTNU contributed money. It is a long process of development from idea to finished product. But now we are on target", states Halvor Wold.
They had a pilot launch in 2015. The finished product was launched in Norway in 2016. The product is manufactured in Norway and distributed by Hepro AS.
- "Fortunately, we got approval from NAV's Resource Center, which thought this could be a good solution for many. The agreement with NAV was absolutely crucial. The challenge is that it is difficult to decide on a product that does not exist and we did not have a price negotiated product. That is why we had to have everything refined and tested, and then we needed partners", explains the entrepreneur.
Great physical progress
"His core muscles, motor skills and balance have improved. This is a positive additional factor, which makes everyday life easier for Peder"
Halvor Wold and the rest of the AssiTech AS team saw early opportunities to export the aid.
- "We have patented the concept in the EU and the US and are actively working with our distributors to develop the markets. The development in the export market has been good. This year, we are expecting a turnover of between eight and ten million NOK, and we now out turnover abroad is higher than in Norway", he informs.
At home with the Åsbø family, they were prepared for it to take some time for Peder to get used to using AssiStep. But everyone was pleasantly surprised.
- "He took the technique very easily. After a day he was safe and he enjoyed using AssiStep so much that he went up and down many extra rounds", says Peder's mother happily.
They also felt a physical effect after Peder started using the aid.
- "His core muscle, motor skills and balance have improved. This is a positive additional factor, which makes everyday life easier for Peder", she says.
Download our AssiStep brochure with more info:
- AssiStep Brochure AssiStep-brochure.pdf Size: 3,08 mb Last ned
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