Entries in Walking (10)


Study Finds Brisk Walking to Be Helpful in Recovery After a Stroke

Comstock/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Heading outside for a brisk walk can improve your quality of life. According to a new study released Thursday, stroke victims could have a lot to gain from walking for exercise.
For the study, published in the journal Stroke, researchers at the University of the West Indies in Jamaica  looked at nearly 130 people who had suffered from strokes -- all of them able to walk with or without an assistive device -- and who were not participating in any regular exercise programs. The subjects were randomized into two groups, an intervention group and a control group, with assessments done at six weeks and three months.
The intervention group was supervised by trained instructors and walked vigorously along a prescribed course for 15 minutes, three times a week, adding five minutes each week until they reached a half hour.  The control group received massage therapy.
After three months, those who walked regularly reported a 16.7 percent improvement in quality of life and also walked nearly 20 percent farther in an endurance test than their massaged counterparts.  

The study's authors say their findings suggest that aerobic walking should be part of a stroke survivor's overall health promotion strategy.

"Walking is a great way to get active after a stroke," lead study author Carron Gordon, Ph.D., said in a statement. "It's familiar, inexpensive and it's something people could very easily get into."
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Bionic Suit Helps Paralyzed Patients Walk Again

Ekso Bionics(LOS ANGELES) -- Patients paralyzed by spinal cord injuries are taking their precious first steps at a Southern California hospital with the help of a battery-powered bionic suit that was first designed to help soldiers carry heavy loads.

“Mentally it’s a wonderful feeling to be upright and moving,” said Aaron Bloom, who was paralyzed two years ago in an accident.

The 27-year-old was told he would never walk again, but with each step in the Ekso Bionic Suit  at Huntington Memorial Hospital, he’s defying the odds.

“Right now, I don’t really need anybody holding me. I can lift my hands up and put a little weight on these crutches and feel pretty comfortable,” he said.

The suit, which costs $150,000, is strapped on over a person’s clothes. Foot plate sensors help locate the center of gravity so the person wearing the suit can maintain their balance as they take each step. A computer is worn on the back to help drive the hip and knee motors.

The entire suit weighs 45 pounds, but the load is transferred to the ground so the patient does not bear the weight, according to Ekso Bionics, the company behind the breakthrough technology.

It took Bloom weeks of practice to feel comfortable using the suit. He knows it’s not a perfect solution, but for now, it is hope.

“I have no doubt in my lifetime that there will be some sort of solution for spinal cord injuries,” he said. “I firmly believe that I will be able to walk in the future. It’s just a matter of time.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Woman Paralyzed While Helping Stranger Determined to Walk Aisle at Wedding

ABC(CANFIELD, Ohio) -- A 22-year-old Pennsylvania nursing student who was paralyzed after being struck by a truck last winter is now determined to walk down the aisle at her upcoming wedding.

Alissa Boyle, a nursing student at Waynesburg University, was weeks away from graduating when on Feb. 20 she headed to Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown, W. Va. She and a few others stopped to assist 21-year-old Derek Hartzog, who had rolled his Jeep on Interstate 79.

Just as they managed to pull the man from the vehicle, they heard someone yelling that a truck was barreling down the road right at them.

“When I turned around, there was a semi right there and not stopping,” Boyle told Western Pennsylvania ABC affiliate WTAE.

Boyle, fellow nursing student Cami Abernethy and Hartzog were forced to leap over the railing over the edge of the overpass, which was 40 or 50 feet above the ground. Boyle was the most seriously injured of the three.

“When I did wake up, I just remember being in pain. I remember just being in pain, and it was the worst pain in my life,” Boyle said. “They told me I’d never walk again. The doctor told me right away that I had a one percent chance of walking,” she said.

As she began her lengthy recovery in western Pennsylvania after the accident, Boyle’s thoughts turned to her upcoming wedding to Nathan, who was stationed at Fort Bragg in North Carolina, and had just proposed to her.

“At first, when it happened, I was worried that he was going to leave, and he never left my bedside. He told me, ‘You’re not going to walk. You’re going to run again,’” said Boyle.

A second look showed doctor’s that Boyle’s spinal cord was not completely severed, as the first doctor had told her. Suddenly she had hope that Nathan was right, and she would be able to walk.

A sense of determination now brings Boyle to physical therapy, and she is resolute in her decision to be able to walk down the aisle at her upcoming wedding at the Avion on the Water in Canfield, Ohio. She says she’s out to prove wrong the doctor who said she had a slim chance to walk again.

Boyle now works out her legs on a sit-down stationary bike, and with the support of her friends and family -- and a charity called Jamie’s Dream Team, who offer help to individuals who are handicapped, disabled or terminally ill -- she is preparing for her big day.

“Her wedding day when she walks down the aisle is going to be an amazing experience for everyone,” Jamie Holmes of Jamie’s Dream Team said.

Holmes and her team are rounding up vendors across the community to make donations, including Mike Jeswald of Avion on the Water.

“Everybody has to give back to the community, and this is such a great opportunity,” he said.

Boyle says that her wedding will have a Cinderella theme, complete with a horse-drawn carriage. She says that she hopes her story will inspire others.

“I think to be an inspiration; I think God wanted me to be on here to show people that you can do anything. Nothing’s impossible,” she said.


Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Is Wobbling Worrisome? Gait Changes May Be an Early Sign of Dementia

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Slow on your feet? This could be the first sign of memory loss to come.

Three new studies presented Sunday at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Vancouver, Canada, finds that changes in walking patterns of the elderly are closely linked to memory loss and may actually be an early clue to dementia.

One group of researchers studied the strides of a group of elderly patients at Basel Mobility Center in Switzerland.  The study, conducted by lead researcher Dr. Stephanie Bridenbaugh, found that those participants with declines in cognition tended to walk more slowly than their memory-savvy counterparts, particularly when asked to perform a simple task — such as counting backward — while walking.

“Gait analysis can simply, quickly and objectively measure walking,” Bridenbaugh commented in a news release. “When problems emerge, this may provide early detection of fall risk and the earliest stages of cognitive impairment in older adults.”

Other doctors not directly involved with the research agreed that it can be difficult for older patients to perform tasks while walking.

“Someone with mild troubles trying to remember things, they might not be focused as much on walking,” said Dr. William Hu, assistant professor of neurology at Emory University. “I hear this all the time from patients: ‘I was rushing to go to the grocery store, and I left my purse at home.’ Asking a person to do another thing while walking really tests their cognitive reserve.”

Another set of researchers at the Mayo Clinic found similar results. The scientists looked at the changes in the pace and the stride of their patients over the span of 15 months. They found that these changes in walking were directly correlated to their memory loss.

Heather Snyder, senior associate director of the Alzheimer’s Association, reports that these studies “continue to build the evidence that there is a connection between gait and cognition.”

“Gait testing is an inexpensive way for us to observe potential changes,” Snyder said. “It can be done by any physician in their office, as a way to identify people that may need further evaluation.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Paralyzed Rats Regain Ability to Walk

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Paralyzed rats could walk again after scientists in Switzerland treated their injured spinal cords through a combination of chemical, electrical and physical stimulation.

Gregoire Courtine, the study’s lead author, said the technique would not completely cure a spinal cord injury, but the study gave scientists an idea of how they could combine therapies, each of which have been or are being tested in humans.

“This kind of approach will not make miracles,” Courtine said, “but it’s interesting because it offers new therapeutic avenues for these very traumatic injuries.”

First, the researchers injected the injured rats with chemicals designed to mimic the body’s own cocktail of signals that coordinate movement of the lower body. Five to 10 minutes after the injection, the researchers sent electrical impulses to tiny electrodes placed in the narrow space between the bones of the spine and the nerves of the spinal cord, stoking the spinal cord’s ability to come back after an injury, a quality scientists call neuroplasticity.

The findings were published Thursday in the journal Science.

After a few weeks of the combination of chemicals and electricity, 10 rats were trained to use their paralyzed hind legs with the help of a robotic device for 30 minutes each day, until they could move their legs voluntarily.

After a few weeks of treatment,  the rats sprinted, climbed stairs and avoided obstacles, the study found.

The improvement to the spinal cord was visible, too. The rats’ spinal cords regrew nerves to bridge the gap of their injuries.

The chemical, electrical and physical training therapies have each been individually studied in paralyzed humans. In 2011, electrical stimulation of the spine helped Rob Summers, a paralyzed 25-year-old, move his legs voluntarily.

Neurologists are cautiously encouraged by the results of the study, but many say much more research would be needed before the techniques can be tested in paralyzed humans.

Courtine said it is too early to know whether the approach will work in humans who have spinal cord injuries, and if it does, it is unlikely that a person would completely recover the ability to walk without help.

“But this condition is so traumatic that even a very small improvement would be a major step forward for these patients,” he said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Texas Students Invent Vibrating Shoe for the Blind

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(DALLAS) -- Students at the University of Texas have invented a shoe that could replace the time-tested cane in aiding the blind in avoiding obstacles while walking.

The students have come up with a shoe covered in sensors that will vibrate once an obstacle is approached.  The sensor nearest to the object will begin to shake, and the closer the obstacle, the faster the vibration.

Dr. Dinesh Bhatia of the University of Texas at Dallas supervised the group of students, whose objective was to eliminate the need for the blind to use canes while walking.

“This is an aid that gives them signals -- in advance -- where the obstacle is.  And then they will navigate," Bhatia said told ABC News' Dallas affiliate WFAA-TV.

Another objective of the shoes is to free up both hands for whoever wears them.

"Yes that would be nice," Blake Lindsay, a spokesperson at Dallas Lighthouse for the Blind, told WFAA.  “I usually just take my left hand do that, but it would be nice to be able to have both hands.”

Though the prototype for the shoe -- built by using off-the-shelf components -- is a far cry from sleek, Bhatia assures that it can be improved.

Laura Shagman, one of the students on the design team, tested the shoe while blindfolded, and within feet of an object she was able to tell it was there.  She said she’s excited about putting the shoes to use.

“If someone were to wear these shoes besides me, that would be great,” Shagman said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Top 10 Most Dangerous Cities for Pedestrians

Hemera Technologies/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Walkers and bikers, stay alert when getting some sun in Orlando, Tampa, and Jacksonville, Fla., for they have just been named some of the most dangerous places for pedestrians in the nation.

A pedestrian is hit by a car or truck every seven minutes, resulting in more than 47,700 deaths and 688,000 injuries between 2000 and 2009, according to a study released by Transportation for America.

"The majority of these deaths share a common thread: they occurred along 'arterial' roadways that were dangerous by design, streets engineered for speeding traffic with little or no provision for people on foot, in wheelchairs or on bicycles," the group said in its report.

Nationwide, pedestrians account for more than 12 percent of total deaths in traffic accidents, and in 15 of the country's largest cities, fatalities have actually increased as deaths of people inside of the car during an accident have fallen over the same period.

The report by Transportation for America found that roadways in Florida and California -- among other states -- have some of the most dangerous streets, many of which are engineered for speeding traffic. Many of the roads simply don't account for the rising number of people walking to work or walking along busy streets for exercise.

Transportation for America, a non-profit that works for transportation reform, used census data to highlight the cities with the highest risks for pedestrians. It urges states to spend more money to improve on infrastructure and focus more on safety.

The Worst Cities for Pedestrians

  1. Orlando/Kissimmee, Florida
  2. Tampa/St. Petersburg/Clearwater, Florida
  3. Jacksonville, Florida
  4. Miami/Fort Lauderdale/Pompano, Florida
  5. Riverside/San Bernardino/Ontario, California
  6. Las Vegas/Paradise, Nevada
  7. Memphis, Tennessee
  8. Phoenix/Mesa/Scottsdale, Arizona
  9. Houston/Sugar Land/Baytown, Texas
  10. Dallas/Fort Worth/Arlington, Texas

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


New York City Named 'Most Walkable City' in the US

Comstock/Thinkstock(SEATTLE) -- New York City is a pedestrian-friendly city. Indeed, the Big Apple is the United States' most walkable city, according to a new list released by Walk Score. The Seattle-based organization ranked cities based on factors such as population density and neighborhoods' proximity to amenities such as public transit and restaurants.

New York City finished slightly ahead of San Francisco, which ranked first in Walk Score's previous list, released in 2008.

Here are the top 10 most walkable cities, according to Walk Score:

1. New York
2. San Francisco
3. Boston
4. Chicago
5. Philadelphia
6. Seattle
7. Washington, D.C.
8. Miami
9. Minneapolis
10. Oakland

COPYRIGHT 2011 ABC News Radio


Walking Speed Predicts Who Will Live Longer

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(PITTSBURGH, Pa.) -- Seniors who can still walk at a relatively speedy pace have a good chance of living to an even riper old age, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

When researchers at the University of Pittsburgh pooled the data from nine large studies that involved more than 34,000 seniors, they were able to correlate walking speed in people 65 or older with expected longevity.

At the beginning of each study, subjects were timed at their normal, comfortable walking pace for about 13 feet and periodically retested for up to 21 years.  Anyone who could ambulate, even if they used a cane or walker, was included.

The faster an older person can walk, the longer they can expect to live and, according to the researchers, walking with some pep in your step appears to be a better predictor of who survives than simply looking at someone's age and sex.

"It's a real part of the human experience to see that when someone slows down with age, they may not be doing as well as they once were," said lead researcher Dr. Stephanie Studenski.  "One of the major goals of this study was to quantify this experience for practical and clinical purposes."

Studenski notes that the act of placing one foot in front of the other requires the cooperation of many body systems including the heart, lungs, blood, bones, muscles, joints, nerves and brain -- and all of these systems synchronize, coordinate and integrate in a way that allows each individual to choose their own ideal walking speed, a speed that remains remarkably constant throughout life unless it's affected by medical issues.

For this reason, scientists consider how quickly a person walks, when correlated with age and sex, a reflection of their underlying health.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Study Shows Americans Trail Other Countries in Walking

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(KNOXVILLE, Tenn.) -- When it comes to walking, the U.S. needs to step it up to stay on pace with other countries.  A study published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise finds that Americans only take an average of 5,117 steps per day.  This figure is low in comparison to Australians, who average 9,695 steps a day, the Swiss, who average 9,650, and the Japanese, who tally around 7,168.

The data taken from 1,136 American adults shows that men, on average, take more steps daily than women.  The researchers at the University of Tennessee also found that single people in the U.S. take hundreds of steps more than those who are married or widowed. 

"The health benefits of walking are underappreciated. Even modest amounts of walking, if performed on a daily basis, can help to maintain a healthy body weight," lead author Dr. David R. Bassett, Jr., of the University of Tennessee Obesity Research Center in Knoxville, said in an American College of Sports Medicine news release.

The study's findings give insight as to why there are more obese people in the U.S. than in other developed countries, the researched noted.  In the U.S., 34 percent of the adult population is obese, compared with 16 percent in Australia, eight percent in Switzerland and three percent in Japan.

"The results of our study are reasonably consistent with data from surveys of travel behavior," Bassett said. "In Switzerland and Japan, a much higher percentage of trips are taken by walking, compared to the United States. This is reflected in their greater daily step counts, and the additional walking seems to have an enormous public health benefit for those countries."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio