05 February 2013
'Scooter Gran' Barbel Roerig
The science behind the success of internet sensation Scooter Gran has been revealed by academics working in GCU’s Institute for Applied Health Research.
Grandmother Barbel Roerig became a worldwide hit after being seen racing around the streets of Perth on a fold-up children’s scooter, which she said helped take the pressure off her painful knees.
Fascinated by the story, researchers in GCU’s Musculoskeletal and Neurological Rehabilitation Group set out to discover how the children’s toy helped to ease Mrs Roerig’s symptoms.
The team borrowed a scooter from one of their children and brought it into the laboratory for tests.
The results of the off-kilter experiment were more than a little intriguing, said Professor Martijn Steultjens, and have led to wide coverage across the Scottish media.
He said: “You normally get a big jolt through the knee when you walk, but what we saw with the scootering is that the jolt almost completely disappears.
“We found that the load on the leg being used to propel the scooter – the stepping leg so to speak – was reduced by as much as 67%. We were really surprised at just how much it was reduced.”
German-born retired architectural technician Mrs Roerig gave the GCU experiment her seal of approval. She told the Daily Record newspaper: “The scientists are quite correct. I had arthritis of my knee which has definitely improved since I started using the scooter.”
Though the novel method of transport isn’t for everyone, added Professor Steultjens.“At 74 years of age, Ms Roerig demonstrates remarkable coordination and balance so whilst it’s a novel way of easing knee pain, with safety very much in mind, its wider use does require careful consideration.”