The Quadstep is a stair-climbing aid which consists of a walking stick combined with a low step. The step is 90mm (3½") high which is about half the height of a normal step or stair. By stepping onto the low step and then onto the step or stair, the height to which you have to lift your foot is effectived halved and this can be both much easier and less painful for people who have problems bending their knees.
The main features of the Quadstep are:
People like to remain in their own home for as long as they can. However the onset of old age, disease, and injuries can hamper their ability to remain independent. Commonly, people have difficulty climbing stairs, descending stairs, and getting over high steps, such as those often found at front doors. This is particularly true for old British houses with their preponderance of odd shapes, awkward steps and steep stairs. The Quadstep, with its low cost, portability and "use anywhere" design is a useful stair-climbing aid to enable people to remain in their own homes.
One common reason why people have difficulty climbing stairs and descending stairs is infirmity from old age. Elderly people can have poorer balance, less muscle strength, and more fragile bones than younger people. This means they are more likely to fall and more likely to injure themselves in a fall. This leads to less confidence, poorer mobility, and this in turn leads to loss of muscle strength. Ultimately the person loses their ability to maintain their independent lifestyle. Difficulty climbing stairs and descending stairs is a big issue for people because of the narrow space, high steps, and depth of fall should they lose their balance. Even the fear of falling, either because of the results of a previous fall, or because they are less stable on their feet, on its own can be a big deterrent for somebody with difficulty climbing stairs and descending stairs. However using a stair-climbing aid such as the Quadstep can be beneficial.
Many medical conditions can lead to difficulty climbing stairs and descending stairs and getting over high steps. climbing stairs and descending stairs requires that the knee and hip especially are bent at much more of an angle than for walking on the level. The hip, for example, moves to an angle of 78° when climbing stairs and descending stairs. If somebody has difficulty moving their knee or hip, they may not have the mobility to move their hip to this extent or it may be extremely painful to do so. This pain and lack of movement leads to difficulty climbing stairs and descending stairs. The same is true of the movement of the knee, and to a lesser extent, the ankle. The Quadstep Stair-Climbing Aid, with its portable low step, minimises the angle of movement of the hip and knee in particular and this means many people can safely and relatively painlessly climb stairs.
Many other health issues can lead to difficulty climbing and descending stairs. These include obesity, fatigue (including ME syndrome), shortness of breath such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder or COPD, damaged muscles, ligaments, and bones, fused bones, and hip and knee transplants. In many cases, the features of the Quadstep Stair-Climbing Aid are invaluable in maintaining their ability to get up and down stairs and even in and out of the front door, with its high front door step being a barrier to use for people.
Other people are born with issues which can lead to difficulty climbing stairs and descending stairs. Those of significantly smaller stature, for example, or with awkward gait can have difficulty climbing stairs and descending stairs. For these people, the low step on the Quadstep Stair-Climbing Aid enables them to quickly and easily climb stairs and get over high steps.
Various stair-climbing aids exist on the market for those with difficulty climbing stairs and descending stairs, including various support bar arrangements, and stair lifts, but these can be very expensive and can only be used in fixed places. The support bars also do not overcome the problem of the high lift of the foot. This is fine for the main staircase in a house, but do not help with other places such as a front door step, the high step into a walk-in bath, or when out of the house. A simple, practical effective and portable solution is required to help somebody with difficulty climbing stairs and descending stairs and this is the Quadstep.
The Quadstep consists of a robust blue plastic step with a non-slip surface. This is attached to a conventional walking stick with an ergonomically-designed handle. The height of the walking stick is adjustable using pop-up buttons and a screw tightener. The handle is reversible at the push of a button so it can be used on either side. The handle has a foam cushion and the base has four rubber feet which absorb shocks and provide a degree of cushioning.
The plastic base is 90mm (3½") high- approximately half the height of a stair or step and so, by first stepping on the plastic base and then onto the step, the height of lift of the foot is halved. The walking stick handle has been ergonomically designed and it is reversible for left and right hand use. The height of the stick can be adjusted of course. The handle has a soft foam pad for comfort. The base of the low step has rubber feet for shock absorbing and to adjust to non-flat surfaces.
Stairs are descended by repeating this process in reverse. This reduces the difficulty climbing stairs and descending stairs by reducing both the angle to which the knee and hip have to bend and also reduces the energy consumed in the process- see the Test Results Section for details.
The walking stick handle is used as a support and also to move the Quadstep up and down stairs. The Quadstep is very light and so it is portable. It can act as a Quad Walking Stick- a walking stick with a wide base for stability and so it can even be used where there are no stairs.
The Quadstep is light, weighing only 820g or 1.8lb. This means it can be used anywhere in the house or outside where you have to step up. Examples include:
Stepping into house Most British houses have a front step which can pose difficulties for people with walking difficulties. The Quadstep can help them to get in and out of their house more easily. Stepping out of bath Many people use a walk-in bath which avoids the need to climb in and out of a conventional one. However these still have a big step and so the Quadstep helps them to use this vital piece of equipment.
The Physiotherapy Department of the University of North Dakota conducted a comparitive study of muscle activity and the range of motion (ROM) required to ascend and descend stairs with and without the Quadstep. This has been published: T.M.Mohr, C.E.Staloch, J.L. Brekhus, B.J.Behrens, T.L.Lewis, R.L.Maybey, 'Electromyographic and Electrogoniometric Study of Stair Climbing Using the EZ-Step and Quad-Step Devices', Phys. Occup. Ther. Geriatr. 2010, 28(1), 1-12.
This showed that when the Quadstep was used, both the range of motion of the leg, and the amount of muscle usage were both statistically significantly reduced when climbing or descending stairs.
Figure 1, below, shows the muscle activity of major leg muscles. The columns in red are when the person walks unaided and the columns in green are when the person uses the Quadstep. The darker colours are when the person is going up the stairs and the lighter colour is when they are going down stairs. As you can clearly see from the graph, when the person is using the Quadstep (green columns) the muscle activity is less than when they are using the stairs unaided. This means that climbing the stairs requires less effort- it is easier to climb and descend stairs when the Quadstep is used.
Figure 1. Muscle Activity Expressed as a Percentage of Original
Figure 2, below, shows the degreen of motion of the knee and hip- the extent to which they have to bend in order to go up and down stairs. Again the same convention has been used, with the columns in red for when the person walks unaided and the columns in green are for when the person uses the Quadstep. The darker colours are when the person is going up the stairs and the lighter colour is when they are going down stairs. It is clearly seen that the angle of movement of the knee is greatly reduced when going up and down stairs with the Quadstep. However, with the hip, there is much less effect, especially when going down stairs.
Figure 2. Range of Motion of the Knee and Hip with and without the Quadstep