When a person's mobility is impaired, their ability to participate in activities is often limited. As a result, it is not uncommon for these individuals to find themselves confined to their homes. Walking aids can help those in need regain some mobility by performing the following functions:
- Decrease or eliminate the weight on an injured, fragile or weak leg
- Compensate for a lack of balance
- Improve walking endurance
Regardless of the aid you choose, it should be properly fitted and you should employ the correct walking technique, as this will ensure safe, comfortable and effective use, while also reducing the risk of falls and injuries.
Selecting a cane
When selecting a cane, opt for a model that provides a comfortable yet secure easy-to-grip handle. Also, keep in mind that a quad cane (4 feet) offers more stability than both the standard cane and the tripod (3 feet) cane.
Lastly, canes with metal or wood tips tend to slide. Choose a model that has a replaceable rubber tip for added safety. For greater stability, you should hold your cane in the hand opposite your weak or injured leg.
Adjusting cane height
To set the proper cane height, follow the steps below:
- Stand tall wearing your everyday footwear.
- Place the cane 15 cm from the feet and let the tip rest on the floor next to you.
- Straighten the arm on the side that you hold the cane, place it alongside the body, and relax the shoulders.
- Adjust the height of the cane so that the handle is level with the crease of your wrist.
Going up and coming down stairs
To go up stairs properly with a cane:
- Approach the first step.
- Lead with the stronger leg and place the foot down firmly on the first step.
- Lean forward while bringing the weaker leg and cane up onto the same step as the stronger leg.
- Repeat until you have reached the top of the stairs.
To go down stairs properly:
- Place the cane and the weaker leg on the first step.
- Bring the stronger leg onto the same step as the cane and the other foot.
- Stand straight and avoid leaning forwards.
- Repeat until you have reached the bottom of the stairs.