Gait & Posture

Julia Hart, Michelle Hall, Tim V. Wrigley, Charlotte J. Marshall and Kim L. Bennell⁎
“Body weight support through a walking cane in inexperienced users with knee osteoarthritis,” Gait & Posture  67(2019) pp. 50-56.

Centre for Health, Exercise and Sports Medicine, Department of Physiotherapy, School of Health Sciences, Melbourne, The University of Melbourne, VIC, Australia

Melbourne University is conducting trials for gait and posture using nCounters Engineering Intelligent Force Walking Cane.


Background: Walking canes are a self-management strategy recommended for people with knee osteoarthritis (OA) by clinical practice guidelines. Ensuring that an adequate amount of body-weight support (%BWS) is taken through the walking cane is important as this reduces measures of knee joint loading.

Research question: 1) How much body weight support do people with knee OA place through a cane? 2) Do measures of body weight support increase following a brief simple training session?

Methods: Seventeen individuals with knee pain who had not used a walking cane before were recruited.  A standard-grip aluminum cane was then used for 1 week with limited manufacturer instructions. Following this, participants were evaluated using an instrumented force-measuring cane to assess body weight support (% total body weight) through the cane. Force data were recorded during a 430-metre walk undertaken twice; once before 10 min of cane training administered by a physiotherapist, and once immediately after training.  Measures of BWS (peak force, average force, impulse equal to the average cane force times duration, and cane-ground contact duration) were extracted.  Using bathroom scales, training aimed to take at least 10% body weight support through the cane.

Results:  Before training, the average peak BWS was 7.2 ± 2.5% of total body weight.  Following 10 min of training, there was a significant increase in average peak BWS by 28%, average BWS by 25%, and BWS impulse by 54% (p < 0.05). However, individual BWS responses to training were variable. Duration of cane placement increased by 22% after training (p = 0.02). Timing of peak BWS through the cane occurred at 51% of contact phase before training, and at 53% after training (p = 0.05).

Significance: A short training session can increase the transfer of body weight through a walking cane. However, more sophisticated feedback may be needed to achieve target levels of BWS.

Force Cane Study Melbourne University

Fig.1 Study canes. (A) Cane. (B) Instrumented cane with an embedded lightweight uniaxial load cell [1] and data logger [2].

Elsevier journal homepage

Contents lists available at ScienceDirect

Download the full length article; “Body weight support through a walking cane in inexperienced users with knee osteoarthritis,” Gait & Posture  67(2019) pp. 50-56. here.


Peter Barrett

Peter Barrett


Peter designs and builds biofeedback products for gait and movement in the orthopaedic and stroke rehabilitation spaces. These devices are programmed for ease of use with built in help touch screens. In all cases data is transferred wirelessly to ensure patient safety.They can store and display data in real time so as to monitor the patient’s overall progress.

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