Study- Step Right Buddy

More Info is needed
Case Study Summary
Similar Content
Overview summary:
Carole Owen of Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust (BCHC) has been collaborating with Dr Sarahjane Jones from Birmingham City University to explore the potential clinical benefits of a device called ‘Step Right ’, which aims to reduce the risk of falls in walking frame users.
The original idea for the Step Right Buddy device came from rehabilitation assistant, Carole Owen, at BCHC, who recognised the need to address the issue of poor posture, falls and the poor technique used by patients when using their walking frames.

Challenge identified and actions taken :
Falls are prevalent in older adults, one third of adults over 65 fall each year. A walking frame is a common device given to older adults whose poor mobility or balance places them at risk of falls.
Incorrect use of the walking frame is common practice, which in itself presents a risk of falls. Patients often step too far into the frame, making the frame unstable and likely to tip, leading to falls.
This led to the invention of the Step Right buddy – an attachment to a standard walking frame, aiming to teach correct use of the frame. It is an elasticated band secured across the top of the back legs of the walking frame, designed to make patients aware that they have stepped far enough into the frame, to stop them stepping any further. It also prevents patients from falling backwards due to holding the frame too close. The device is designed to provide walking frame users with sensory and visual feedback on how far to step into the frame thus lessening risk of falls.
The research team which included Carole Owen, Sarahjane Jones, Faye Dimmock and Helen McEwan undertook a pilot study of the device. The aim of the study was to gain insight into the user’s experience of using the device after trialling it for one week. The study was also used to identify whether any new risks were introduced with use of the device.
Impacts / outcomes:
  • The pilot study assessed the acceptability and safety of the device on 17 walking frame users who had been identified as using the frame incorrectly.
    • Users reported positive experiences from using the device
    • Users reported the Step Right Buddy corrected their posture and that the concept has great potential.
    • No serious adverse events occurred, however two incidents of unsafe and incorrect use of the device were identified.
    • Alongside the research project, the university also provided training and development opportunities for staff at the Trust, in the design, development and delivery of research.
    • Wider patient and public involvement was sought in both design and analysis of the study using an afternoon tea party group discussion format.
    • The study has highlighted that the Step Right Buddy is acceptable for patient use and the need for further research.
  • An application for funding from the Health Foundation is being considered and manufacturing sought.
  • The Step Right Buddy was also awarded a cash fund after being shortlisted for the MidTECH prize for best NHS-developed Medical Technology Innovation at the annual West Midlands Academic Health Science Network Awards.
Supporting quote for the innovation from key stakeholders:
Rehabilitation assistant at Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust Carole Owen:
“It was a ‘light bulb’ moment and initially, I just used a pair of tights… then I went home and ran up a simple flexible strap for 40p. I never imagined at that stage that it would develop the way it has.”
Senior research fellow at Birmingham City University Dr Sarahjane Jones:
“It’s a brilliantly simple concept because it acts as both sensory and visual aid”
“We’ve been very pleased to partner with BCHC on this and support Carole. This funding will help us develop and produce a batch of up to around 200 Buddies, taking forward the concept into a larger trial.”
The project was also aided by the feedback of former physiotherapy service patient John Fancote:
“I’d had such wonderful support from the physios so I said I’d like to give something back and I was very pleased to be able to offer a patient’s view and support the development of such a simple but effective idea.”
Innovation Manager at of Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust Hamid Zolfagharinia:
“Carole is a shining example of what we can achieve by working with colleagues to take their great ideas from clinical practice and develop them.”
Which local or national clinical or policy priorities does this innovation address:
The Step Right Buddy is a simple accessory that can be added to a walking frame to guide patients who have experienced difficulties using a frame. This device’s priority therefore is to help prevent patient falls when using a walking frame.
Plans for the future:
Funding awarded from MidTECH will help the team further develop the device Step Right Buddy and will aid to produce a batch of 200 buddies, which will take the concept forward into larger trials. A larger scale study will aim to identify the effectiveness of the device on frame users who are fallers and those at risk of falls. The team are currently in the consultation phase with a designer to formulate a design specification of the device in readiness of getting the product to a manufacture.
Tips for adoption:
At this time, the Step Right Buddy isn’t available for adoption into practice, however, if organisations would like to learn more, or be a partner site in the recruitment of patients to a larger trial, please do get in touch.
Contact for further information:
If you like more information on Step Right Buddy contact Carole Owen:
Created by
Share and Follow