Ulla Schlösser; © Spomobil e.V,
"Keep your feet firmly on the ground". This is what we say to someone who needs to calm down or remain within bounds. At REHACARE 2015 a special carpet will be presented which aims to reach exactly the opposite: Those who walk on it shall burst out of their own bounds and learn to walk more securely and become more mobile again.
"Many senior citizens tend to make small, short steps, for fear of losing their balance and falling. But those who makes small steps do not have as much balance as they think", explains Ulla Schlösser, Managing Director of Spomobil eV. in Lippstadt. The charitable association is a longtime provider of mobility training. With the "G-Weg" (a wordplay on "walkway") they have developed a therapeutic aid which is aimed at again extending the steps of the elderly, the very elderly, dementia or stroke patients. It also shall improve their coordination and thus make their walking more secure. G-Weg is a carpet which is printed with a grid of lawns and cobblestone pavement.
Schlösser explains the purpose behind this design: "Due to the size of the fields, the steps are getting longer. Our goal is to train the people to achieve a longer swing and a longer standing phase. And the optics support practical everyday exercises." One of the exercises for example is to carry two bags or to open and close a bottle while walking.
One of the exercises on the G-Weg is the task to keep a partner "dry" with an umbrella; © Spomobil e.V.
But communication also doesn’t come up short: In another exercise, the user should keep a companion dry with an umbrella without hooking in his arm. Another exercise is to talk while walking or to greet another person by lifting the hat and then to continue to look at that person as it walks away. "A nurse, a physical therapist or a trainer can for example train with a patient in a one-on-one situation, but groups exercises with up to 15 people are also possible. The G-Weg comes with 52 methodology and training cards with varying degrees of difficulty. There's something for everyone", Schlösser continues to explain the concept. Here, the motion of walking is always coupled with another everyday movement in order to promote double coordination.
Spomobil e.V. has developed the prototype for the G-Weg together with the University of Paderborn as part of a bachelor thesis. "For us, this cooperation has been a go-ahead to develop the overall concept, the methodology and exercises around the G-Weg" explains Schlösser. And in 2015 the research will continue in a cross-over study for which a group of residents of a retirement home shall train on the G-Weg. The security of their walking will then be compared with that of a group that has not been trained.
The G-Weg successfully activates its users, as Schlösser points out: "People see and do something that they already know and remember doing. For example, dementia patients recognize the lawn and the cobblestones. When we tell them to try and walk over the stones they also get the motivation again to lengthen their stride".
This is what the campaign "G-Volution" from Spomobil e.V. at REHACARE 2015 looks like; © Spomobil e.V.
Spomobil e.V. are also exhibiting the G-Weg at this year's REHACARE: "With our presence at the trade fair we want to attract more attention to the subject of fall prevention for the elderly, dementia and stroke patients. By training regularly with the G-Weg and by integrating our concept into daily life in care those affected can retained a greater degree of autonomy." By selling the G-Weg the association also aims to receive additional financial support for the work of Spomobil e.V. and the development of new concepts.
Spomobil e.V. and the G-Weg can be found in the Sports Center in Hall 7a directly next to the stage where they will be presenting this year's campaign "G-Volution". There, the exercises with and on the G-Weg can be tried out on all four days of the trade fair.
© B. Frommann
The article was written by Timo Roth and translated from German by Daniel Stöter.