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STAIR HELPER MAKES DAILY LIFE EASIER

Estimated reading time 5 min. Published 20.08.2018
MALVIK: Tommy Jørstad found the stairs a big obstacle to daily life. Balance was poor, and knees threatened to fail. But with bedroom and bathroom on the 2nd floor, the stairs have to be overcome several times every day. “I was simply scared to use the stairs,” says Tommy Jørstad, sitting in his living room. (This is a translation based on an article by Anne-Lise Aakervik, originally published in Ergoterapeuten 2nd edition 2017.)
Disabled handrails - Meet the AssiStep
Next to him is his walker, which is a great helper getting between chores. But it’s no good in the stairs.

The former master carpenter in Malvik municipality in Sør-Trøndelag has Ménière’s disease which causes intense episodes of vertigo. Additionally, he has osteoarthritis in both knees and hips. Climbing the stairs to get to bedroom and bathroom eventually became a struggle.

  • “I have to plan trips up and down with regards to the stairs,” he says. “The trip down is especially bad, when the foot has to go down the first step. If my knee fails or dizziness comes, I can easily fall.”

This means a daily life characterized by thoroughly planned hydration breaks and other tasks. Because he can’t take many rounds of stair walking every day. But the possibility of getting outside help didn’t cross his mind. It was his doctor who mentioned the opportunity of a visit from the municipal daily life management team.

POSSIBLE AIDS

The Malvik municipality daily life management team is a cross discipline team working closely with users. They assist with training as well as home facilitation if needed. When they visited Tommy, the team quickly realized the stairs were a challenge, and that they maybe had a solution.

  • “We immediately saw that Tommy’s method of getting up and down the stairs wasn’t very good. His body became rigid, thus making him less safe in the stairs,” says Martin Tjugen, occupational therapist of the daily life management team.
  • “When you need to use the stairs to get down in the morning and in order to get to the bathroom, any insecurity can affect activity levels negatively by making you hesitant to walk the stairs, and put things off,” explains Malvik municipality occupational therapist Oda Helen Græsli.
  • “For this reason, we were very pleased when we found a solution we thought would work,” says Martin Tjugen.
Everyday rehabilitation with the stair walker AssiStep
MAINTAINING FUNCTION

The solution Martin Tjugen had in mind, was a stair helper that gives support when walking up and down stairs, but which doesn’t do the work for you.

  • “I heard about the AssiStep as a student, and realized early on that this could be a good alternative to stair lifts. We brought Tommy to Ladesletta Velferdssenter in Trondheim, which allows for testing the stair aid,” says Tjugen.
  • “I immediately realized this was clever, and that I could make use of it. It’s especially walking down the stairs that’s difficult for me, but with this support I can lean against the handle if I feel unsteady, and it gives me good support to be able to put my feet down safely ahead of myself,” says Tommy.
UP AND DOWN

He gets up and walks over to the stairs. Along the wall, two rails have been mounted. He folds out a handle, grabs it with both hands before he starts pushing. After that he walks, step by step. The climb goes quickly. On the top landing, he stops and turns.

  • “This part was the worst for me,” he says, taking the first step down while holding on to the handle.
  • “Now I feel safe. If my legs should fail, I can hang on with all my weight on the handle without falling forwards. It feels safe, and I don’t hesitate as much when going down the stairs. I don’t need to use it every time, but it’s a good aid which makes it possible for me to live in my own house,” he says, smiling.
  • “By the way, it’s very good that people this young care about this type of thing, and are clever enough to make something so functional,” he adds.

Daily life management has granted many users the opportunity of living at home and taking care of themselves for longer. Mapped out needs and clear goals makes it so training can be systemized and quality of life improved. This is what the daily life management team of Malvik municipality in Sør-Trøndelag work with every day.

In Malvik, the team working with daily life management put their focus on what are important activities to the individual.

  • “We map out the totality, needs and surroundings of the user. Sometimes, it’s enough to think new, and in some cases, offering aids is a smart thing to do. With the AssiStep, we are now able to offer an aid that both contributes to daily life management, letting users live at home, and can be used for training for those who need it.”

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