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The acceptability and accessibility of magnetic walking aids when used in hospital: a randomised trial.

PURPOSE: Poor walking aid compliance and accessibility can put the user at an increased risk of falls. We explored the acceptability and accessibility of magnetic walking aids (MWAs) compared to standard walking aids (SWAs) in inpatients following joint replacement.

METHODS AND MATERIALS: A non-blinded pilot randomised controlled trial was conducted. Inpatients following hip or knee replacement were randomly allocated to the MWA group ( n  = 20) or the SWA group ( n  = 20). Primary outcomes were the acceptability and accessibility of the MWA compared to the SWA during their inpatient stay, assessed through made-to-measure patient and staff questionnaires. The secondary outcome was the number of times the walking aid came to rest on the floor, measured using logbooks kept by participants.

RESULTS: The participants in the MWA group reported their aid was more easily accessible, and that they were more likely to use their aid in their room than participants in the SWA group. Participants in the MWA group dropped their aid less often, with a median of 0.3 walking aid drops per day in the MWA group and 1.1 drops per day in the SWA group ( p  = 0.002).

CONCLUSION: The results of this pilot randomised trial suggest MWAs may be an acceptable and inexpensive intervention for improving walking aid accessibility and adherence and reducing walking aid drops when compared to SWAs.

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