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Safe Use of Mobility Aids Checklist (SUMAC)

Available in English and French.


Cognitive and walking problems are common and progressive in dementia, leading to impaired mobility, falls and fall-related injuries. Importantly, people with dementia have an annual fall risk of 60-80%, twice that of the cognitively normal, and have a higher risk of major fall-related injuries, such as hip fractures. One rehabilitation strategy for balance and walking problems is the prescription of a mobility aid (e.g. a walker). Yet, paradoxically, use of a mobility aid in people with dementia is associated with a three-fold increased falls risk independent of other factors. One reason for this increased risk of falls include limited insight on safe use of the aid.

In 2020, a new assessment scale, Safe Use of Mobility Aids Checklist (SUMAC), for people with dementia who use a 4-wheeled walker was developed by Dr. Susan Hunter PT PhD, Associate Professor in the School of Physical Therapy at the University of Western Ontario. (click here to access the study paper https://bmcgeriatr.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12877-020-01865-5 ) The tool standardizes the assessment of the quality of the person’s walking and safe practices while using the aid to improve communication across disciplines and aid in care planning. The scale was developed through focus groups with healthcare professionals who have experience of providing rehabilitation to people with dementia. The SUMAC assesses nine tasks that our panel of experts felt reflected a core set of skills needed for people to evaluate independent use of a 4-wheeled walker.

Assessment Tool

The tool is free for use and can be accessed at the research website of Dr. Susan Hunter, School of Physical Therapy at the University of Western Ontario. ( https://mobility-in-aging-lab.ca/ )

On the website you will find: the assessment tool (available in English, French and Spanish), a user’s manual (available in English and French) and an online training module for use the assessment tool. Please contact Dr. Susan Hunter ( susan.hunter@uwo.ca ) for more information.

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