Struggeling with his balance
On thursday afternoon, the installation at home in Fredrik Okkenhaug’s farmhouse was finished. This is the first time an “AssiStep” has been installed in a set of stairs with a curve.
Three former students of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology(NTNU) are the entrepreneurs behind the stair walker, which already has won awards. Now the solution is approved as as an assistive device through NAV, and can thus be procured like any other home aid through dialogue with occupational therapists.
- “I have fallen several times, and the last year I haven’t dared walk the stairs alone,” says Fredrik Okkenhaug, who struggles with his balance.
This has been problematic, because the bathroom is placed in the second floor of the farmhouse, without an option to move it to the first floor.
- “With this aid, I can walk the stairs without being afraid. I think this will be very good,” says Fredrik Okkenhaug after the first few test walks up and down the steep stairs.
AssiStep is a fully mechanical solution, and thus works equally well if the power goes out.
60-70 units so far (fall 2016)
CEO and co-entrepreneur Halvor Wold explains there are between 60 and 70 AssiSteps across the country. In this area, there is one in a Mule home, one in Fredrik Okkenhaug’s neighbourhood procured privately as an exercise aid, and one each on Egge helsetun and Verdal bo- og helsetun. The latter two are there for people to try out whether this is a suitable solution for them. The new health facility in Levanger may also get one.
- “Fredrik’s daughter and I went to Egge to look at the device, and agreed that this would be useful for him,” says occupational therapist Solrun Matberg of Levanger municipality.
With the installation in the home of Fredrik Okkenhaug, the entrepreneurs also get proof of the AssiStep working even when the stairs aren’t straight and symmetrical.
May not have to move to care residence
The AssiStep can be an alternative to stair lifts or home rebuilding.
- “Ultimately, you could say it gives people the opportunity to keep living at home,” says Solrun Matberg.
- “In any case, it’s about giving people the opportunity of walking in their own stairs, which is both good for public health, and is not least about a feeling of accomplishment,” says co-entrepreneur and CTO Ingrid Lonar.
In addition to the two overseeing the installation in Fredrik Okkenhaug’s home, the company has two more employees. Eirik Gjelsvik Medbø is another co-entrepreneur - and chief of marketing. Lastly, they have a sales manager in Sweden by the name of Jörg Radtke.
- Every year in Norway, 50 people are killed, and 30,000 injured after falling in stairs.
- Every 20 minutes an older adult dies from a fall in the US (source: https://www.nsc.org/home-safety/safety-topics/older-adult-falls)
- Stairway use is involved in 1,900 deaths and 1,3 million hospital emergency room visits per year in the US (source: National Safety Council 2011; Pauls 2011)
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