How to Choose the Right Walking Aids for You
When it comes down to finding the perfect walking aid for you, the task at hand can seem a bit daunting. There are so many options out there that sometimes getting down to choosing the best option for you can progress longer than it should which could in return make your problem harder than it has to be.
Common issues that result in the need for walking aids typically include but aren’t limited to:
- Having a recent accident in the past that has effected your walking
- Any type of injuries revolving around your legs or back
- Surgery or illness recovery
- Joint or muscle pain
- Even old age which has the chance to also include disease involving the nervous systems
Luckily for us, there are many walking assistance devices and aids that can really help assist us with a majority of the problems mentioned above. On top of that, we live in a world today that has so many mobility options available that again, it can be hard to distinguish exactly which ones are right for you!
Consider this blog your guiding factor to finding the perfect walking aid for you or your loved ones today.
Did you know that Canes are perhaps the most common and standard type of walking aid a senior is likely to use? By the time most of us reach our seventies, our balance begins to weaken and this is where a cane might come in handy. Most canes are a “standard” length of 36 inches which is a great height for most, but one that can be adjusted if needed. One important thing to note with canes is that while they take the stress off the lower body to assist with walking, they do put greater stress on the hands/wrists. This means that if you have a weaker upper body or arm/hands issues, a cane might not be the best choice of a walking aid unless you only intend to use it on a rare basis.
Walkers (Walking Frames)
Walking frames are commonly known as “ Zimmer” frames which are mostly used indoors. These frames are made for those with poor balance and weak legs, and may be used as a rehabilitation aid after illness. The good thing about this aid is that it provides you with a large base of support, the bad part is that it prevents a natural walking pattern meaning that there is a lot of stop and go along the way. Wheeled walking frames are a better option as they do not require lifting for every step.
These are similar to wheeled walkers but the difference is that rollators have handlebars, frame and wheels, a seat or shopping basket that may be included in its design as well. Consider this for those who enjoy being outdoors or even getting around town on a frequent basis. However, the only downside to this aid is that if you need to lean or push against the frame for support, it may run away if the brake was not applied which could result in further injury if not careful.
Crutches and canes go hand in hand because they both have the ability to take the weight from the legs and transfer some of it to the upper body instead. Crutches are commonly used by the elderly in pairs and are generally a lot more difficult to use than standard canes. They tend to be better as a temporary walking device, often used after a leg injury. You need strength and good coordination to use crutches properly. Hence, they are not suitable for elderly.
While the knee scooter is similar to a rollator, the knee scooter/walker is designed to allow you to rest one knee on a padded cushion while propelling the walker with the other leg. Knee scooters are an especially great walking aid if you have only injured one leg or if you want a walking device that allows you to stay active. They’re really fun to use too, but probably not the best option for those with general weakness/limited mobility.
Unlike most walking aids covered above that give the user some work to do, a wheelchair basically does the moving for you – especially if you choose an electric wheelchair! A wheelchair is best used by those who should not or cannot put weight on their lower limbs or those who cannot walk. The wheelchair can be the right mobility aid for those with more serious disabilities or who need to travel over greater distances.
While these scooters are similar to wheelchairs, they are actually bulkier machines, designed to be used outdoors, battery powered and with steering controls. Mobility scooters are not so much “ walking aids” as they are walking replacement devices! But they can be great for those who have trouble getting out and about and want to see the town and keep up with the others!
Risks to Consider
As with any tool, walking aids come with risks. This means that improper use of these aids may lead to other injuries. Seniors are especially at risk of falling and causing serious injury to themselves when using devices they have not been trained to use properly. Given that only about one-third of all users receive their mobility aids from a medical professional, this is a significant risk to consider.