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U-Step Walker Grants Patients Improved Mobility

Posted Tuesday July 2, 2019

In the spring of 2018, Douglas County Visiting Nurses Association, Inc. (VNA) requested $5151.00 to purchase therapy equipment, diagnostic tools and therapy software for use in VNA’s Home Health program. This grant would help VNA’s patients build strength and balance, prevent falls and improve motor ability, endurance, range of motion, dexterity and agility.  Since receiving the grant, VNA is reporting amazing results!

From the Spring, 2018 Community Grant Report

“Suddenly, Mike could feel the cold floor on the side of his face. When he regained consciousness, he couldn’t move and feared he might be paralyzed. Fortunately, when the paramedics asked Mike to move his fingers, he was able to and the fear that he had broken his back quickly subsided. About a month later, Mike pointed to the damaged corner of a table in his living room that his television sits on, as he recounted the incident and explained how he ended up needing VNA’s services.
“You see that corner?” He said. “I took that corner out when I fell. I thought I broke my back.”
While Mike’s nasty fall was what prompted his referral to VNA for physical therapy (PT) and occupational therapy (OT), the cause of the fall was the primary reason he needed PT. Mike had not been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, but he had several symptoms that mirror those of the disease. Mike had tremors and shuffled when walking, compromising his mobility and making him a significant fall risk. This is where Ron, a PT student and intern at VNA and Audrey, a PT at VNA, helped Mike. They assessed his condition and realized that he could potentially benefit from use of a new piece of PT equipment that VNA acquired as part of a grant from the Douglas County Community Foundation (DCCF). The U-Step Walker gave Ron and Audrey a safe and effective method to improve Mike’s ability to walk properly.
“Besides tremors, one of the things that is affected is his gait, how he walks, very small baby steps,” Ron said. “So that was one of the things we worked on was taking bigger steps and that’s part of what the U-Step Walker helps with.” The U-Step Walker is certainly not an ordinary walker. Its features include a laser to encourage larger steps, a metronome to pace walking cadence, and six wheels that allow smooth movement and the ability to turn without lifting the walker.

“The old walker I had only went straight,” Mike said. “As long as I was going straight, the wheels would turn, but if I wanted to turn, I had to pick it up and turn it.”
The U-Step Walker has clear benefits for PT patients, especially those with complications from neurological disorders. Audrey credited the walker for Mike’s rapid improvements in mobility from when they first started working with him.
“I don’t think it would have been as successful for Mike if we didn’t have the U-step walker,” she said.
“Just because with Neurological disorders, the U-step walker allows them to keep the cadence of their gait. So they don’t do that shuffling or small step.”
Mike is just one of many patients who will benefit from the U-Step Walker and other PT equipment that VNA was able to purchase with grant funding from DCCF. Since Visiting Nurses is a not-for-profit organization that is dedicated to caring for every patient, regardless of their ability to pay, sometimes funds are not readily available to purchase new specialty equipment that improves the level of patient care. VNA relies on grant funding to acquire equipment and for other needs that support the organization’s mission. Grant funding allows VNA to not only provide care to more patients, but also helps provide the highest level of care possible to all of the patients they serve.
Quality medical care is a mix of clinical knowledge, compassion, and having the right equipment. VNA’s staff is very knowledgeable and exceptionally compassionate, but they still need the right tools to provide the best care. Thank you to DCCF and all of the foundations that help provide the funding to support VNA’s mission!”

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