Walking Assistance or Injury Waiting to Happen?

walking assistance: To Use or Not to Use? That is the Question

I sometimes feel surprised by how often I encounter a senior who doesn’t want to be seen in public with a cane or a walker.  Some associate the need for walking assistance with disability and frailty.  Others see canes and walkers as representing weakness or vulnerability.  Still others think these devices are just too clumsy to lug around.  Or too ugly.  Or both.

Let’s face it.  They are kind of clumsy.  And kind of ugly.  Maybe they are also kind of necessary.  Or maybe not.  The truth is, the jury is still out.  Some research supports the use of walking assistance equipment like canes and walkers, advocating stability and fall prevention.  Other research points to  how these tools can contribute to trips, falls, and serious injuries, especially when used incorrectly.

whether injury or age related, walking assistance equipment can be used safely and effectively

Sometimes complete recovery from an accident, injury, or surgery is not possible. You may have a health condition permanently affecting your legs, balance, or coordination. It may be a good idea to consider walking assistance in these instances.

Consider asking your physician for a physical therapist consult to determine what will be appropriate for your needs, lifestyle, and home environment.  It isn’t enough to buy a cane or walker at a local drugstore or shopping center.  A proper assessment will help you identify which device is best for you and how to fit it properly. Most importantly, learning how to use the equipment correctly will prevent it becoming the cause of a potentially serious injury.  It’s not as easy as you might think.

Walking equipment supports the following functions:

Greater stability and balance because of the wider support base.

Aid your walking pattern in terms of speed and stride.

May help maintain an upright body posture and weight distribution, which in turn increases confidence in walking ability.

Could help reduce pain in back and joints caused by over-compensation when walking without assistance.

Increases confidence in ability to move around safely.

This Medline article outlines the safe use of a walker.  Be certain to consult your physician or physical therapist prior to making a purchase.  You’ll want to feel assured in selecting which is best suited to your needs.