Tiara's Tuesday Talk – Assistive Devices

SaraSheibleyThat’s right it’s Tuesday again and time for me to throw some exciting information at you about Assistive Devices for Walking. Recently I had to battle some demons of my own in this department and have decided, a cane is better than a fall. So, to educate you on this week’s subject matter I went to the world wide webby and found some pictures of all kinds of devices you can use. I knew about most of these however they certainly have way more than I thought before. So I educated myself to better serve you!
Let’s start with canes.
As you can see, there are several options to choose from and it really depends on your comfort level and the amount of support you may need. The top options are really about comfort while helping you balance without much weight barring. The C handle or the T-grip should be tested to see which one fits your grip style better and whether you want adjustable or not. The four legged cane or quad-cane, can bare more weight and add more stability. The down side is you must be able to plant all four legs down before proceeding so it can slow you down a bit. Lastly, there is the hemi-walker adding more stability and increased weight barring.
To find the right length for you, stand up straight, wearing the shoes you’ll use for walking, and let your arms hang at your sides. Have someone measure the distance from the floor to the inside of your wrist (where the palm meets the wrist) of the hand you’ll be using. When you’re standing straight and holding your cane upright, your elbow should be flexed at a 15- to 30-degree angle. Always use the cane on the side of your “bad” or weaker leg. Step with the good leg and cane at the same time. It takes practice but it is well worth it when you require extra balance.
TTTCrutchesNow for people who can’t use canes due to hand issues or other problems they do have an assistive crutch, or nonaxillary crutch. It doesn’t require the use of your underarm and chest muscles like a traditional crutch.  The two recommended for doing more walking is the platform crutch or the forearm (Lofstrand) crutch. These crutches transfer the body weight through the forearm and down to the floor. It is essentially a cane with a handle along its length, rather than at the top as is seen with a traditional walking stick. It may have a forearm cuff at the top which provides greater support. Nonaxillary crutches are suited for a person who needs slightly greater support than a walking cane. It is able to transfer up to 50% of the body weight down to the floor. The most popular type of nonaxillary crutch is the Lofstrand crutch, which is lightweight yet strong and durable. However, nonaxillary crutches require the user to have good upper body strength and stability.
Then we have standard walkers which can provide significantly more stability then the other previous devices. So, if balance is a major issue, a stationary walker would likely be the best fit especially if slowing down the user is part of the plan.
TTTWalker3 TTTWalker2 TTTWalker
Front wheeled walkers and rollators,  a.k.a. two or four-wheeled walkers: The two wheel model is to typically keep someone at a slower pace while providing balance. The four wheeled version would then be more suitable for an active person who is looking to cover a considerable amount of ground. The advantage of not having to lift the walker with each step allows one to travel greater distances with less effort. But such a device may be overkill if the individual is just intending to use the walker within the confines of the home. My Dad typically uses a cane while at home (or at my house) and his rollator while out and about.
After these fine devices we would start getting into wheel chairs. For our walk – using a wheelchair powered by you – counts at our standard 2000 steps per mile!

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