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Icon: Exercise-based interventionsExercise-based Interventions: Yaktrax® Walker


This study tested the effectiveness of the Yaktrax® Walker, a lightweight traction device that fits over shoes, to prevent falls among older adults when walking outdoors on ice and snow.

During the winter months, participants in the Yaktrax® intervention group were half as likely to slip and about 60 percent less likely to fall compared to the group that wore their usual winter footwear. Participants in the intervention group also experienced significantly fewer minor fall-related injuries.


Participants were community-dwelling adults aged 65 or older who had fallen at least once in the previous year. About 60 percent were female.

Geographic Locale

Rural central and northern Wisconsin, United States.


Using a traction device that fits on shoes to improve stability when walking on ice and snow.

Program Setting

Participants used the Yaktrax® Walker on their own in the community.


Participants were given a Yaktrax® Walker that was sized to fit the external length of their usual winter footwear. Participants had to be able to put on the Yaktrax® Walker correctly.

After reviewing the Yaktrax® Walker instruction manual with participants, the research study coordinator spent approximately 30 minutes training the participant and then had the participant practice putting on the Yaktrax® Walker.

Participants were told to only wear the device outdoors when there was ice or snow. They were instructed that the Yaktrax® Walker should never be worn indoors or on smooth outdoor non-ice surfaces.


This study took place during the winter of 2003–04.

Delivered by

Research study coordinator.

Minimum Level of Training Needed

Instructors should read the manual and practice putting the Yaktrax® Walker on themselves and others.

Key Elements

  • People must be able to safely put on and take off the Yaktrax® Walker or leave the device on a dedicated pair of shoes or boots that are only worn out of doors.
  • Shoes should be measured to assure proper fit of Yaktrax® Walker.
  • Yaktrax® Walker must not be worn indoors.
  • Yaktrax® Walker should be inspected for breakage and replaced if broken.

Available Materials

Instructions that accompany the device are sufficient for consumer use.

Study Citation

McKiernan FE. A simple gait-stabilizing device reduces outdoor falls and non-serious injurious falls in fall-prone older people during the winter. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. 2005 Jun;53(6):943-7


Practitioners interested in using this intervention may contact the principal investigator for more information:

Fergus Eoin McKiernan, MD
Center for Bone Diseases
Marshfield Clinic
1000 North Oak Avenue
Marshfield, WI 54449, United States

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