While a wheelchair is a suitable option for individuals who face difficulty standing or walking, there are others who require some level of support while walking but can still walk. For those who experience instability or fatigue while walking for extended periods, walking aids such as crutches or walking frames can offer the necessary support while maintaining their independence. These aids can be beneficial for people with temporary impairments due to injury or long-term disabilities that limit mobility, allowing them to carry out daily tasks and participate in social activities.
When choosing a walking aid, it is essential to consider several factors. This guide outlines the various types of walking aids available, along with their benefits, to help you select the appropriate aid for your needs.
Types of walking aids
Walking aids come in many different types, each one designed to help with various mobility issues and overall concerns. Some examples of walking aids include walking sticks and canes, crutches, rollators, and walking frames. Read on to learn more about these different types of walking aids.
Walking sticks and canes
These are the simplest and most commonly used walking aids. They provide support and balance and come in different types such as single point canes, quad canes, and folding canes. Single point canes are the most common and consist of a straight stick with a handle on top. Quad canes have a wider base with four legs and provide more stability. Folding canes are designed for easy storage and transportation.
Crutches are used when one leg is unable to bear weight due to an injury or disability. They come in different types such as axillary crutches, forearm crutches, and platform crutches. Axillary crutches are the most common type and are placed under the armpits, while forearm crutches are placed on the forearm. Platform crutches are used for those who have limited hand strength or wrist pain.
Rollators are wheeled walkers with a seat and a backrest. They come in different types such as 3-wheel and 4-wheel rollators. They provide support and stability, and some models also have brakes and baskets for carrying items.
Walking frames, also known as walkers, are similar to rollators but do not have wheels. They provide support and stability and are ideal for those who have difficulty walking or standing for long periods of time. They come in different types such as standard walkers, wheeled walkers, and folding walkers.
Overall, the type of walking aid that is best for you will depend on your individual needs and mobility concerns. It is recommended to consult with a healthcare professional to determine the most appropriate walking aid for you.
Choosing the right walking aid
Walking aids provide individuals who have difficulty standing and walking without assistance with increased freedom and independence. There are various types of walking aids that offer varying levels of support, and it's essential to choose the right walking aid based on your individual needs, abilities, and intended usage.
Most walking aids are designed to provide stability for those who find it difficult or tiring to walk unaided. However, in situations where standing or walking is challenging, a walking aid may not be suitable, and a wheelchair may be more appropriate.
Walking aids can also be used in conjunction with other mobility aids. For example, you may choose to use a walking aid at home and a wheelchair when you're out and about, or vice versa.
To determine the most suitable walking aid for your needs, it's recommended to consult with an occupational therapist or doctor. You can discuss your specific mobility requirements, any limitations you may have, such as arm or hand strength, and how you intend to use the walking aid.
After discussing with a healthcare professional, you can try out different options to see which one you're most comfortable with. This may involve visiting a Liberty Healthcare store to test different walking aids and receive proper fitting.
Consider how and where you’ll use a walking aid
Walking aids and frames are used for various reasons, such as during recovery from surgery or injury, for avoiding fatigue during daily activities, or regular use due to a long-term disability.
When choosing a walking aid, it's crucial to consider the intended usage and environment. For occasional use outside the home, a walking stick or cane may be sufficient, as they are lightweight and easy to put aside when not in use.
However, if you require additional support and posture assistance, a rollator may be more appropriate. Rollators are ideal for outdoor use and uneven terrain due to their four wheels, which distribute your weight and allow easy maneuvering in small spaces. Rollators can also help alleviate strain on the legs and lower back.
Overall, considering your specific needs and intended usage can help you choose the most suitable walking aid for your mobility requirements. It's also recommended to consult with a healthcare professional to ensure proper fitting and usage of the chosen walking aid.
Learn to use it properly
Using a walking aid safely is crucial to prevent falls and injuries. It's important to follow some basic safety tips when using a walking aid. These include:
Adjust the height of your walking aid so that it is comfortable and provides the right support for your posture.
Make sure your walking aid is in good condition, with no loose or worn-out parts.
Wear suitable shoes that are supportive and have good grip.
Take small, slow steps and keep your back straight.
Look straight ahead, not down at your feet, to maintain your balance.
Take extra care on uneven surfaces or when going up and down curbs or slopes.
Avoid carrying heavy bags or loads, as this can affect your balance.
Be aware of your surroundings and look out for obstacles that may cause tripping or falling.
Practice using your walking aid in different situations and terrains, and don't be afraid to ask for help or advice.
Remember, using a walking aid is not a sign of weakness, but a way to improve your mobility and independence. With practice and patience, you can use your walking aid safely and confidently.
Regular reassessment of your mobility needs and walking aid usage is important to ensure that you're using the most appropriate aid for your current situation. If you notice changes in your mobility or if you experience any discomfort or pain while using your walking aid, it's important to discuss this with your healthcare team.
They can evaluate your situation and suggest adjustments to how you use your current walking aid or recommend a different type of aid that better suits your needs. By staying aware of your mobility needs and working with your healthcare team, you can ensure that you're using the right walking aid to help you stay as independent and active as possible.