Why Stand? Why Walk?
The Benefits of Standing
Why Stand? Why Walk?
Use the Gait Harness System to Walk Again
The human body is dynamic, is intended to bear weight, and is designed to move.
There are many benefits of standing: improved range of motion through the lower extremities, increased bone density and hip stability, and systemic organ health.
There are many benefits of walking: beyond standing, walking increases muscle tone and strength with dynamic weight bearing, maintains whole body health, extends life span, and bolsters quality of life.
Second Step products are used to rehabilitate people with balance and coordination deficits, and those with frequent falls. The clients who come to us have a primary goal of regaining their ability to stand and walk again, safely, and more independently.
The human body is dynamic, is intended to bear weight, and is designed to move. People working through disabling conditions experience healthier engagement and quality of life boosts when they regain the uniquely human ability of being upright and moving. Research shows that prolonged sitting is linked to early mortality.
In cases where people cannot yet stand or ambulate independently, supportive gait training, standing frame and walking frame equipment can help them move to maximum potentials while they safely work through therapy process of learning to stand and walk again.
Below, learn more about getting safely started standing and walking again: overcoming risks, benefits of standing and walking programs, why dynamic movement is important, benefits of over-ground therapy, value of home-based walking programs, and what research and evidence based practice shows are the key factors leading to successful functional outcomes.
Browse further below to connect with more detailed material on the importance of re-learning to stand and walk again specifically focused on post stroke, brain injury, and spinal cord injury survivors, in addition to clients working through neurological, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and orthopedic issues.
Getting Started: Keeping Exercise Safe & Productive
Preventing fall risk & overcoming learned non-use
Standing and walking exercise need to be done in a safe, supported manner. Falls put a person at serious risk of injury, and are the leading cause of death from injury among people 65 and over. Investing in tools and equipment which keep a person safe from falling are vital.
Time and attention need to be invested to help people overcome compensatory behaviors resulting from learned non-use patterns they may have adopted after illness or injury.
Learned non-use of a limb is a learning phenomenon where a person’s movement is suppressed (initially due to adverse reactions and failure to attempt activity with the affected limb(s), which then results in the suppression of normal operational behavior.
Learned non-use after suffering a disabling event leads to certain functional decline. An intensive focus on regaining limb function through safe, controlled exercise is preferable to a practice of continuing adaption to the weakened limb(s).
When it’s Time to Take a Stand
Medical Benefits to Gait Harness System Standing Program
- Client is securely supported & safe from fall risk
- Reduces risk of injury to client & caregiver/practitioner during standing
- Reduces client stress during therapy
- May reduce chronic pain & fatigue
- Gait Harness provides pelvic & trunk control during transfers
- Creates mechanical safety support around patient
- Allows client to maximize their normal stationary & movement activities
- Client may safely begin weight bearing
- Distributes client weight more evenly
- Maintains bone integrity/skeletal health
- Encourages coordination & balance
- Improves strength/reduce atrophy in trunk & lower extremities
- Decreases joint/muscle contractures
- Improves circulation
- Reduces spasticity
- Reduces swelling in lower extremities
- Improves bowel function & regularity
- Aids in kidney and bladder functions
- Improves range of motion
- Manages pressure ulcers through changing positions
- Improves psychosocial skills
- Improves client’s mental state & sense of well being
- Opportunity for combined OT and PT therapies
- Client may take rest breaks as desired
- Improves sleep
When it’s Time to Step Up from Standing to Walking Again
Medical Benefits to Gait Harness System Walking Program
Includes all the benefits of GHS standing program, plus:
- Client is securely supported & safe from fall risk
- Reduces risk of injury to client & caregiver/practitioner during walking
- Restoration of maximum normal, functional independence
- Client can work on overcoming learned non-use/compensatory behavior
- Assists in restoration of full weight bearing function, including transfers, standing & gait activities
- Opportunity to practice weight transfer & step initiation safely
- Increases independent gait
- Increases muscle tone & strength with dynamic weight bearing
- Promotes neural recovery
- Opportunity for self-mobilizing, active client participation in learning to walk again
- Opportunity for reciprocal arm & leg movement during walking
- Improves motor abilities
- Increases opportunity for multi-tasking/ combined OT and PT therapies
- Improves cardiovascular function with start & stop aerobic activity
- Increases endurance & flexibility
- Allows direct caregiver/practitioner guidance when client is in GHS, allowing for safe exercise training
- Increases dignity
- Increases social opportunities
- Increases ability to reclaim hobbies
- Increases ability to perform activities of daily living
- Expands from clinic to home enriched environments: can be used on flat, level indoor and outdoor surfaces
What is Dynamic Walking? Why is it best?
“When properly secured in the GHS, the resident is completely supported, without need for caregiver assistance. Mobility activities can be performed relatively hands-free. The resident’s confidence is restored, which can be a huge barrier removed. The therapist is now able to fine-tune the resident’s mobility and address weakness and other gait deviations.”
– Linda Horn, PT, NCS, Inpatient PT Coordinator, St. Agnes Healthcare, Baltimore MD
Walking, and learning how to walk again following disabling event, is a complex, three-dimensional function. Dynamic movement describes walking therapy that facilitates natural body movement, weight-shifting and stepping.
Typically, dynamic intervention is facilitated using specialized standing frame and walking frame therapy equipment. Dynamic equipment provides functional postural support, and allows the client to change position and begin movement practice. Dynamic walking frames accommodate the natural movements of the body during gait.
Research shows that combining proper client position with dynamic movement leads to better outcomes and improvements in physiological gait pattern, with a trend towards more fluid, energy efficient walking.
Benefits of Over-Ground Therapy
“I am suggesting my patients get a Second Step GHS device to them, because we know that over-ground training gives the best recovery results.”
– Carlos Lima MD, Department of Neurology, Hospital de Egas Moniz, Lisbon, Portugal
Good news: by a large and significant margin, recent study meta-analyses prove that task-specific gait training, over-ground, improves gait quality and speed more than a passive or robotic approach, and more than body weight supported treadmill training (BWSTT). See Research
Improving step length symmetry through over-ground gait training has the potential to decrease fall risk. Improving symmetry through over ground practice also contributes to a more “normal” stride.
Studies show that walking on a treadmill does not carry over well to over-ground walking. The active motor requirements in over-ground walking appear to be an important factor for promoting spatial symmetry in gait.
BWSTT, which relies on total guidance of the robotics, leaves little room for active effort on the part of the client, a key aspect in motor learning and functional gains.
Comparing over-ground training to the robotic treadmill training suggests that it is not the length of time spent in training, but rather how an individual engages in the activity that produces the results. Or, that a greater number of step repetitions produces greater functional change in walking ability, but only when transferring the skill to a natural walking environment.
Providing opportunities for repetitive stepping practice, over-ground therapy has been shown to be most effective. The Second Step Gait Harness System provides safe, supported chances for active client participation in the task of real world, over-ground, repetitive standing, stepping, and walking practice.
Benefits of Home-Based Programs
“Most individuals will not have home access to a body weight support treadmill training system after they leave the clinic, but may be able to implement an over-ground system, like the GHS, that allows for efficient over-ground training reinforcement. I use the GHS in the clinic, and refer it for home use, to accomplish this reinforcement.”
– William Thornton, MPT, Lead Physical Therapist, The Center for Spinal Cord Injury Recovery, Rehab Institute of Michigan, Detroit MI
Studies show that home-based over-ground training has the potential to improve gait patterns while eliminating the common barriers of scheduling and lack of access to transportation.
Motor learning suggests that practice, repetition and task specificity are instrumental to task improvement. Extending the practice of therapeutic activities beyond the clinical environment and into the home is a great way to apply these principles and reinforce the gains made in the clinic.
Home exercise requires less expensive equipment, its implementation requires a smaller number of staff members, less training is required for physical therapists, and clients are more likely to comply with the regimen.
The stability and support of the Gait Harness System for Home Users gives the client the opportunity to practice standing and walking, not only in the clinic but at home.
Practicing standing and walking again in a home enriched or outdoor environment for extended periods, daily (or multiple times daily), both in early and extended phases of intervention helps reinforce and maintain gains made in the clinic.
The goal is increased community ambulation. Practicing increased walking speeds, within the safety support of the GHS, can predict the level of community ambulation and quality of life achieved.
Results suggest that home exercise, with appropriate walking frame equipment such as the Gait Harness System, is a more pragmatic form of therapy with fewer risks.
What Research Says About Walking Recovery Outcomes
“The GHS allows clinicians here at STAR to create a variety of fun and challenging exercises that breaks the monotony of traditional therapy, and achieves better client outcomes.”
-Joe Bongiovanni, CBIS CDSS, Chief Operating Officer, Strength Training & Recovery Corp., Grand Blanc MI
Recovery outcomes rely heavily on the principles of motor learning, specifically: relevance, repetition, intensity, and task specificity. Walking recovery involves a whole-body approach.
Motor learning improves when the intervention has meaning for the client. If the client wants to walk again, they are motivated and willing to put in extra effort to achieve their goal.
Repetition and Intensity
Learning to stand and walk again can occur at any stage of life with enough practice and repetitions.
In the field of neurology, we see gait, standing and walking again being relearned after stroke, neurological injuries, SCI and TBI with intensified practice sessions.
Because repetition and intensity contribute to neuroplasticity, giving the client ample opportunities to walk again is essential (especially after months or years of limited gait recovery).
Evidence based practice shows that for many clients, the most significant improvements in over-ground walking start when the client uses proper walking frame equipment, such as the Gait Harness System.
Clients may not achieve significant gains in walking if their therapy is not focused on the objective. When the focus is on standing and walking again—in the clinic, outdoors and at home, clients perform better.
The Gait Harness System for Practitioners better fits client needs and efforts at meaningful gait (as opposed to the body weight support treadmill training, or robotic manipulation), and can be used in combination with a heel lift, orthoses and functional electrical stimulation to facilitate more specific walking practice.
Gains in Gait and Functional Improvements
Progress is achieved through practice. Improved standing and walking balance help improved many ADL activities, including toileting and dressing skills, not to mention the cognitive, psychological, and physiological benefits of being weight bearing.
Walking In a More Natural Way
“I have a group of patients at a facility who were all told they would never walk again—after using the Gait Harness System, only two now use a wheelchair as their primary locomotion. I use the GHS daily with almost all my patients. The unique harness is extremely comfortable, works very well with the braces, and reduces the number of seated rest breaks with any standing activity. The GHS allows for reinforcement of newly learned gait patterns, in a real-world situation. Many of the higher-level activities would require two or three staff members if it were not for the GHS. I cannot say enough about the ease of use and its ability to reduce the fear of falling.”
– William Thornton MPT, Level 11 Physical Therapy Clinics founder, Holly MI
The GHS provides a safe and effective environment for transfers, standing, gait and exercise when partial or full weight bearing is desired.
A specialized, dynamic all-in-one standing and walking frame, the Gait Harness System unite proper client positioning with dynamic weight-bearing and weight-shifting needed for a more natural gait pattern and easier stepping.
The Second Step GHS is a client-centered system. The client is properly positioned to walk well and progress quicker, because the natural movements of the body during gait are accommodated.
Because the System is dynamic, it allows significant flexibility by encouraging normal gait and rhythmic motion in walking patterns for those learning to walk again. The System provides lateral and vertical movement plus dynamic body weight support.
It is important to invest in the proper equipment for your needs. GHS users understand recovery takes time, and want commercial grade equipment which will help them in the long haul.
Our clients report the GHS is far easier, and more comfortable to use, than therapy equipment products which support the client via overhead suspension slings, groin straps, groin high leg cuffs, a bicycle/saddle or a firm seated surface.
Through the principles of motor learning and neuroplasticity we can see partial to complete recovery of lost functions. Clinical evidence-based practice supports the Second Step Gait Harness Sytem as a necessary adjunct to standing and walking recovery.
Purchasing a GHS is an investment in health, quality of life, and longevity. Our clients look for a commitment which will pay off.
Take a Stand to Prevent Falls
Falls Put a Person at Risk of Serious Injury
Falls are a leading cause of injury among older adults. However, fear of falling doesn’t need to rule your life. Planning and executing fall-prevention strategies are a first step.
However, the second step is equally essential: being weight-bearing, learning to safely stand and walk again. Proper equipment, like the Gait Harness System, can help. If you’re concerned about cost, remember that an investment in fall prevention and walking safety is an investment in the independence of you, your loved one, or your patient.
Quick Facts about Falling
- The risk of falling increases with age.
- Two-thirds of those who experience a fall will fall again within six months.
- A decrease in bone density contributes to falls and resultant injuries.
- Failure to exercise regularly results in poor muscle tone, decreased strength, and loss of bone mass and flexibility. All contribute to falls and the severity of injury due to falls.
- At least one-third of all falls involve environmental hazards in the home.
- Falls are the leading cause of death from injury among people 65 or over.
The Effects of Immobilization are Severe
Step Up from Standing to Walking Again
Morbidity and mortality association with locomotor dysfunction arise from the impact that disorder motor activity has on the other physiologic systems. Neuromuscular disorders may have direct and secondary effects through immobilization.
Sedentary behavior affects our health in negative ways. Prolonged inactivity causes marked physiologic and biochemical changes in practically every organ and system.
Complications can develop even in a healthy individual, and are worse in a chronically ill or aging person because of prolonged bed rest and inactivity.
Adverse effects of chronic immobilization affect the whole body:
- Musculoskeletal system
- Nervous system
- Digestive system
- Skin (Integumentary system)
- Cardiovascular system
- Respiratory system
- Urinary system
It is a Biological, Human Need To Be Up and Moving
Passive standing can assist counteracting the serious effects of immobilization.
Although passive standing may be good, dynamic movement is better. Dynamic standing and over ground walking are critical to the full body recovery work of learning to stand and walk again.
Dynamic, actively engaged client participation movement also helps overcome habituated learned non-use and compensatory behavior, which may have begun during sedentary behavior and immobilization.
Click through to our Will the Gait Harness System work for me?, How does the GHS compare to other equipment?, Case Studies & Publications, Research, and Funding Help pages for more helpful, detailed information.
Contact Us Today
We are here to help you
For personalized attention, please call or email us today. We will take the time to answer all your questions about how the Gait Harness System is helping people walk again, and whether it could be right for you.