Walking Aids Crutches, cane

Walking aids can be used to help support or keep weight off an injury, improve balance or help one get around. Choosing the proper walking aid is important. In addition to meeting your specific needs, it should be adjusted to provide you with the best support. When using a walking aid, you should be able to walk naturally and safely, without any pain or discomfort.

Cane

A cane can help reduce the weight load on a foot or leg by 25%. It is ideal for those who are gradually starting to walk again (after having been on crutches, for example), for those who need help with their balance or as a preventive device for the elderly when moving about outdoors.

There are several types of canes to choose from: foldable, adjustable, single-point, multi-point, etc. It is important to select the model that best suits your needs. Those who occasionally need a cane can opt for a foldable model, which is easier to carry. Over time however, this model may not be as safe since it is not as sturdy. The adjustable model is a good option for someone who knows they will be wearing shoes of various heights. This will enable them to adjust the cane accordingly. Those who need help with their balance may benefit from a multi-point cane. There are two types of multi-point canes - the tripod cane and the quad cane. The quad cane is the most stable and is therefore the best option when looking to improve steadiness. Walking with this type of cane however will slow one down since all four feet have to touch the ground before one can take a step. Otherwise, the cane could slip and the person walking with the aid is at risk for falling.
  
Adjustment
  • Stand with feet slightly apart (avoid wearing high heels).
  • Place the cane about 15 cm for the foot on the side opposite the injury or alongside the weakest leg.
  • Let the arms fall to the sides naturally and stand straight.
  • Adjust the height of the cane so that the handle is at the same height as the fold in the wrist.

To walk, always move the cane at the same time as the opposite leg - which is the weakest (injured) limb. Try to keep the cane vertical at all times and avoid tilting as this may cause it to slip.

Going up stairs with a cane

  • Stand close to the first step
  • Lift the stronger leg and firmly plant foot on the first step
  • Bend forward as you move the weaker leg and the cane on to the first step

Coming down stairs with a cane

  • Take the first step down with the cane and the weaker leg
  • Then, lower the strong leg to the same step
  • Stand straight, do not bend forwards

Crutches

Crutches are used to keep a person's entire weight off an injured leg. Because the use of crutches requires a great deal of upper body strength, users must be relatively fit. Crutches are generally recommended for younger people, for a maximum of eight weeks. Forearm crutches are in interesting alternative to traditional crutches. Much like traditional crutches, they prevent one from putting pressure on the injured limb but are easier and safer to use. They are recommended for longer-term use.

Adjustment

  • Stand with feet slightly apart (avoid wearing high heels)
  • Place crutches about 15 cm from feet
  • Let the arms fall to the sides naturally and stand straight
  • Adjust the height of crutches so that they are within two finger-widths of the armpit
  • Adjust handles so that they are at the same height as the fold in the wrist

When using forearm crutches, the height of the hand grips should be at the same height as the fold in the wrist. It is also important to make sure that the cuffs are comfortable and not too high (they should not come up as high as the elbow).

To ensure stability, whether walking or standing, both crutches and the uninjured foot must form a triangle at all times. Crutches should therefore be slightly in front of or behind the uninjured foot but never in line with the body. Avoid resting underarms on the crutches. Instead, they should be against the thorax and weight should be transferred through the arms onto the hand grips.

Going up stairs with crutches

  • Begin by placing the uninjured leg on the first step
  • Then, place crutches and injured leg on the same step

Going down stairs with crutches

  • Begin by placing the crutches on the first step
  • Then, bring the injured leg, follow by the uninjured leg down on the same step
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