Walking Aids: Guide to Mobility Aids for Walking
These walking aids have long been the products of choice for many disabled and elderly people who need some assistance, but can still remain independent of caregiving support while walking.
Mobility is such an important part of independence. The ability to remain mobile can mean the difference between an elderly person staying in their own home or
having to move into a facility. If someone you love needs a little extra
help with walking and getting around, here are some of the best home
Assistive Canes and Crutches
The traditional cane has been transformed into its modern day
version and is now available in several different styles. All of them
will help people walk and move around by providing them with
They also work by taking some of the weight load off the lower limbs and transferring it to the upper body. They can also generate movement as the arms can be used to help propel the body. Canes are ideal for those people who just need a little assistance with balance and strength.
Crutches can carry a heavier load, and forearm crutches are a great compromise between the two. Forearm crutches are secure, they improve balance, increase lateral stability and will reduce the strain on the wrist. A very affordable solution, they still require strength in the upper body, particularly in the wrist.
Also referred to as Zimmer frames, walkers feature three points of contact for walking. The user has two handles they can hold while leaning gently into the front of the walker.
Two different types of walkers are available:
- Standard walker - A traditional walker features solid legs with rubber tips for traction and stability. Standard walkers are the most common types of walkers and are relatively inexpensive, while also providing adequate stability and support while walking.
- Rollators - A rollator features wheels for easier movement. Many rolling walkers also feature a seat that can be used anytime the person needs to get the weight off their legs and rest for a few minutes. Hand brakes are featured on rollators to prevent the user from losing control of the walker.
When shopping for a walker or rollator, look closely at the height and
the adjustment capabilities. The walker must be adjusted carefully to
meet the user’s height. The person should be able to grasp the
handles with slightly bent arms while they are standing upright.
Rollators with larger wheels that are at least seven inches in
diameter are more stable. If you are considering a rollator, look
for newer models that feature back seats and baskets rather than
hooks. In addition to help people retain some of their mobility,
walkers can also be used to help people lower into seats and rise
The one big disadvantage of rollators is that the hand brakes can
be difficult for people with weak hands. The wheeled walkers can move too easily if the brakes are not locked, creating a potential hazard. Consider a rollator with “slow-down brakes”. These rollators feature a knob that can be turned to adjust wheel tension, allowing the user to set the right pace.
These walking aids are a cross between walkers and wheelchairs. They
are used to help people learn how to walk independently again after some
injury or mobility issue. They provide support for body weight like a
wheelchair, but also provides users with the opportunity to stand and safely
bear their own weight.
These walking aids are excellent for people with disabilities who are learning
how to walk. They are also ideal for people who have suffered a stroke or
other injury to master the skill again.
Gait training has been used for decades by physical therapists. What was
once limited to treadmills and physical therapy rooms, however, can now be done at home with the use of gait trainers. They will allow the practice sessions and workouts to be continued in the home environment, allowing for faster recovery.
When you are trying to help someone maintain their independence, you might want to consider purchasing several walking aids. Canes may be great for short distances, but a rollator is a better choice for longer distances. Traditional walkers are ideal for use inside buildings because of their smaller size, ease or folding and optional trays. However, they can be difficult to use on outdoor terrain.
A rollator is a better choice for taking walks outside and shopping. Choosing a few aids to suit the different needs can help your loved one remain truly independent and mobile. Be sure to discuss your personal mobility needs with your physical therapist or doctor to help you make the best decision for your needs.
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