Background: The purpose of this paper is to systematically review the evidence for the provision of walkingframes to improve mobility for older people.Objectives: To investigate the types of frames used and the processes involved in prescribing frames, andto determine the effects of using a frame.Methods: The AMED, CINAHL, Embase, and MEDLINE Electronic databases were searched using keyterms between 1990 and January 2011. Research papers reporting outcomes about the effectiveness ofwalking frames in relation to mobility for older people were eligible for inclusion. Sixteen papers wereincluded under the criteria applied, representing 17% of the studies identified. A range of study designswas included. Double-blind review was carried out and quality assessment conducted using CASP criticalappraisal tools. Synthesis of literature was carried out on a narrative basis through the development ofthemes in relation to types of frames, user’s perspective, falls prevention, effects on gait and balance, andphysiological effects.Results: The evidence reviewed is largely of poor quality. Users obtain walking frames from many sources.The evidence reviewed neither proves nor disproves their effectiveness in the prevention of falls. Walkingframe use does have an effect on gait patterns and some physiological outcomes. The effect on postureand balance remains unclear.Conclusions: A need for clinical guidelines in relation to provision of walking frames has been identified. Thetherapeutic use of walking frames to improve physical fitness merits further research as well as longer-termstudies to evaluate the effects over time.
- Walking frames