Many people go through physical therapy after an injury to regain their ability to walk. A walker is an essential tool for physical therapists who are helping patients recover from leg or back injuries, regain their sense of balance, or need to build strength in order to walk unassisted. Walkers allow them to build strength while maintaining mobility. A disadvantage to using walkers therapeutically is that they don't provide feedback to patients or their therapists about how much patients are depending on the walker throughout the course of rehabilitation.
The Smart Walker is a standard walker that has been adapted with pressure sensors that indicate the extent to which a user is leaning on each side. There is a bar mount that holds a tablet, which has an app installed that was developed by the team. It provides user-friendly infographics to display the patterns of an individual's walker dependence. When Wi-Fi is available, the data is also stored in an SQL database that a therapist can access for further analysis. In addition to displaying historical use data, the Smart Walker provides real-time feedback to help patients correct their alignment, graphs that show the cumulative time spent leaning in each direction, and the ability to post comments to enable clinician-patient communication between in-person sessions.
The current prototype is complete.