Evaluation of the Dynamic Stair Trainer

Dynamic Stair Trainer - Evaluation

General Description

The Dynamic Stair Trainer (DST) is an innovative new device designed for the gradual practice of stair-climbing skills for people undergoing physical rehabilitation.

The apparatus features four steps whose height can be adjusted electronically from zero to 16.5 centimeters (0– 6.5 inches) between steps. It is literally a Dynamic staircase.

The DST is also equipped with handrails on either side. The height of the handrails can be adjusted.

The device is designed for people in various stages of rehabilitation who need to exercise to regain their ability to use steps and stairs following illness, heart problems, stroke, orthopedic injuries, car or work accidents, surgery (including knee replacement), neurological injuries or amputations.  In general it is suitable for anyone requiring physiological rehabilitation, including children.

Uses

Stair climbing is a basic everyday skill, which is why physiotherapists emphasize practicing on steps. It enables patients to return to their natural environment as quickly as possible with minimum restrictions on their mobility.

Stair climbing provides many other beneficial side-effects, including general strengthening of the body, improved coordination, enhanced self-confidence and improved balance.

Being able to adjust the height of the stair precisely to suit each patient’s level enables patients to begin stairs exercises during the very first stages of rehabilitation, immediately after they are able to walk – and sometimes even before.

To operate the Dynamic Stair Trainer is simple: press a button and the height of the steps adjusts electronically to just what the patient needs. It is even possible to readjust step height during the exercise session, should this be necessary.

Advantages of the DST

The DST was tested over a period of several years at numerous rehabilitation centers. Here are the findings:

Practicing stair climbing at an earlier stage of rehabilitation:

Because the stair can be adjusted so accurately to the patient’s level of ability, exercises can begin at an earlier stage of rehabilitation. On regular stair or on a wooden step device, the height of the stairs is set, usually at 16.5 centimeters (6.5 inches). A patient who cannot yet climb stairs of this height cannot begin stepping exercises. With this incredible physio equipment, we can adjust the height to exactly what the patient is able to do and thus begin sraircase exercises at an earlier stage.

Some patients began climbing the stairs at a height difference of one centimeter and within two days succeeded in climbing stairs three centimeters high. Five days later they could already climb eight-centimeter stairs.

By introducing this exercise at such an early stage, the entire rate of the patient’s progress increased – not only the ability to climb steps, but also the ability to walk.

Reciprocal ascension of steps:

In other cases, the DST allowed patients to ascend and descend steps reciprocally. A common phenomenon among people with one weak leg is to climb stairs by leading with the strong leg and dragging the weaker one up to it. By adjusting the DST to the functional level of the weaker leg, patients succeeded in climbing steps reciprocally, rather than by dragging the weaker leg to catch up with the stronger one. This exercise contributed greatly to the patients’ progress, and eventually we were able to increase the height of the steps while maintaining reciprocal ascent.

Increased patient motivation:

An interesting and important aspect of the use of DST was the dramatic increase in patients’ motivation to perform the exercise. We know that exercising on steps can be fraught with frustration, pain and anxiety. Adjusting the height of the steps precisely to the current ability of the patient affords a feeling of achievement as well as reassurance that they will be able to perform this important exercise after their release from the hospital. As one patient said “Now I’ll be able to climb the stairs at home.” This increased motivation was visible in the patients’ willingness and desire to exercise.

Patients would go up and down the steps several times, with the physiotherapist increasing the height of the steps from time to time. They could actually see their own improvement as they found themselves able to ascend steps at a height that only a few days before had been too high for them.

The modern design of the device and its electrical self-adjustment mechanism gave the patients a feeling of being in a fitness room rather than in a hospital. One patient said: “It’s a real high-tech instrument”.

By the end of the treatment, both the patient and the physiotherapist were convinced that the improvement, which in the past entailed great effort, time, and often frustration and pain, was accomplished much more quickly and easily using the DST.

Adjustable handrail height and width:

The possibility of adjusting the height of and the distance between the handrails afforded the staff much greater flexibility in practice. With the height of the rail adjusted to suit the patient’s height and condition, the patient could concentrate more firmly on his main task.

Adjusting the distance between the rails enabled patients who required it to ascend with handrail support on both sides. Other patients, in contrast, needed greater distance between the rails so that they could hold onto the handrail with one hand and an auxiliary aid, such as a cane or walker, with the other.

Independent practice:

The adjustability of the steps and the handrails as well as the general safety of the device allowed some patients to practice independently after receiving appropriate guidelines from the physiotherapist. Independent practice also accelerated the rehabilitation process and enhanced the patients’ self-confidence.

Shortening rehabilitation time:

In essence, all the points mentioned above contributed to reducing the time required to acquire step-climbing skills and thus of the entire rehabilitation process. The saving in time required to learn to cope with steps was at times quite dramatic.

Adoption of the DST by the staff:

It usually takes quite some time for medical staff to adapt to a new device or apparatus. With the DST, the medical staff was exceptionally enthusiastic and responses such as “Where has this device been until now?” and “How did we get along without it until now?” were common.

Savings and efficiency:

The DST saved us treatment time and made our work more efficient. Instead of improvising all kind of platforms with steps of different heights to meet the patient’s needs, the physiotherapist simply pressed the button and immediately had a device that was perfectly adjusted. The fact that step-height could be adjusted to the patient’s ability to practice by himself also helped. For example, this freed the physiotherapist to work with someone else while giving instructions and taking an occasional look at the patient working by himself on the DST.

Summary

It is rare that a physiotherapist receives an auxiliary aid so essential for performing the dedicated work of enabling patients to return to their daily routine. This is what happened in the case of the DST.

The DST creates a veritable revolution in the physiotherapy hall and when it is used for the first time, immediately becomes an essential tool of rehabilitation. Beyond its proven effectiveness, the DST is popular with both staff and patients.

The DST offers another benefit: It can accurately monitor the rate of the patient’s progress (a graph with dates of the exercise on the X axis and the height of the steps on the Y axis dramatically presents the patient’s progress during his rehabilitation). This gives the physiotherapist both a tool for working with patients and a tool for monitoring their progress. The graphic display can be presented at staff meetings and used when communicating with outside agencies (medical institutions, insurance companies, etc.).

The DST is a device that accurately meets a real and basic need in rehabilitation. This is its greatest value.

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Testimonials

I’m recovering from a heart attack, at first i couldn't walk let alone climb steps. Then they tried me on the DST, it was like being in a gym. On the first day i was up one centimeter, by the fifth day, I was u...

Cameron Leyton
USA
Nov 08, 2012

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