Rollator Research, U-Step 2 and Parkinson's Disease

By: pete. Updated: August 26, 2021.

Last year we bought a cane for my wife to help her with balance problems with her slowly advancing Parkinson’s Disease (PD). The style of the cane was more important to her than its function. I realized then it would be better to do rollator research before the illness might force us into an emergency rollator purchase via a fall or other issues. I had a local medical supply company bring three different rollators for her to test at our retirement community that they thought would fit her needs.

The first rollator had large diameter wheels and she could not get them to turn very easily. The second one ran away from her and she could not stop rolling forward. The third one had an uncomfortable seat and no back rest for the seat. She was not interested in a red colored model. We were surprised none of them met her needs. We knew we needed more research.

We saw one of our residents walking with one of the tall rollator models. She was very happy with it as it held her more erect and not bent over. She let us test its stability and it was easy to get it to tip over sideways. My wife also thought it was too visible and too large.

I called a physical therapist at Vanderbilt Medical Center. She said they had patients fall with the tall rollators because they had a high center of gravity. The patients had chosen tall rollators as they wanted to stay more erect as they walked, but some of them had experienced falls off to the side of the high rollators. She said they had better results for PD patients with a U-Step walker because it was more stable and had a lower center of gravity. They have a U-Step, but we could not get in to test it because of the pandemic. We studied the U-Step web site and called the company to get information. The web site is: Ustep.com

[Ed note: see more about this product and a picture and a link to the vendors website in the Tech-enhanced Life listings database: U Step Rollator ]

We found a local area PD patient who loaned us her Standard U-Step 2 for a week. When we picked it up, she showed us all of its features and gave us the manual for it. We took it home for testing. Then we heard about a used one for sale, also in our area, and found them on eBay. We quickly learned about pros and cons of the Standard U-Step 2.

Pros:

  • Very stable low center of gravity & it has optional weights that can be easily attached to the base.
  • The wheel brakes are released when either of the handles are squeezed. Good for PD.
  • The brakes are engaged when the handles are released. Good for PD patients.
  • Maneuverability is great as it turns easily and in a very short radius with its 7 wheels. Great in tight quarters like a washroom, kitchen, etc.
  • The two rear wheels help prevent falling backwards.
  • The optional laser shining on the floor is excellent for PD patients who can physically freeze in doorways. Stepping over a laser beam fools the brain and the patient can keep walking.
  • The optional cadence counter and the laser helps keep the patient on a steady stride.
  • Stepping on the rear edge of the base can help raise the front to go over obstacles.
  • Clear plastic tubing on the base lets the patient push a door open with marring the door paint.
  • The seat is comfortable and it has a back.
  • Storage under the seat is adequate.
  • The larger rear wheels can have the friction changed to suit the rolling needs of the patient which is very important with PD.
  • The black color and size were acceptable to my wife.
  • The unit can be covered by Medicare. We did not do this as Medicare only reimburses for one mobility device and we may need an expensive wheelchair in the future.
  • If one buys a new one, they have a two-week trial period.
  • It does well on concrete roads, curbs, etc. and the seat is an asset on outdoor trips.
  • The front wheel has a spring on it to help get over obstacles.

Cons:

  • It is expensive selling new for around $600 plus $250 for laser/cadence option.
  • It is sturdy and tall when folded up and too heavy for my wife to take it in & out of her vehicle.
  • When my wife went grocery shopping alone, she could not push a grocery cart and her rollator at the same time so this is a universal rollator issue.
  • Some spring-loaded doors were very difficult for her to open. She tried backing into a door to push it open and that worked a bit better. Hold the rollator handles and push on the door.
  • We decided when rollator time comes, we will buy a second lighter smaller rollator for her vehicle and use the Standard U-Step 2 at home over all of our retirement 48-acre campus, dining room, etc.
  • It may be difficult to find one to test at local medical equipment companies.

A few days into testing the loaned U-Step, my wife fell on her hip & fortunately did not break it, but we needed a rollator till her hip healed so we quickly bought the used Standard U-Step 2 for sale in our area for $500. It has the laser and cadence options. She used it till her hip healed and now it is in our storage unit. We know it will meet her rollator needs here in our community if the need arises in the future.

Disclaimer – I have no connection to U-Step & no financial arrangements of any kind with them. It simply turned out to be the best option we could find for our PD situation. Cheers. Pete K.


 

Comments

 

from Trizah Wanja (unverified) at October 05, 2021

We have tried all the wheeled walkers available on Amazon and the u-step walker is head above the rest. We run a home for the aged plus hospice at our facility and so we have quite a good number of PD patients struggling with walking. The stable base, innovative braking system plus the cues for sound and light are amazing.

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