When somebody needs assistance walking they will often resist mobility aids at first. The mindset is ‘I don’t need something like that, they are for old people’. However, walking aids should be looked at the same way as a pair of glasses or orthotic shoes- simply a tool that helps a particular area perform better than it does naturally. Two of the first mobility aids that someone with a walking issue may require are either a walking stick or a set of crutches.
Walking sticks are by far the most popular beginner’s mobility aid. They come in a large variety of styles, colours and designs that offer a touch of personalisation and style to the necessity. Walking canes are generally made out of wood or aluminium, though theoretically could be made of almost any material- people have been known to use bamboo or even glass rods. The most common shape of a walking stick is the curved ‘hook’ which the user can sling over his or her arm. Other handle varieties include swan neck walking sticks, “T” top and orthopaedic-grip handles. Some brands and models of canes can be purchased in a folding style that allows the user to conveniently place the stick in a small pouch when not in use.
There are other types of special sticks to make walking even easier- quad sticks, also known as pyramid sticks or quad canes, are four-legged walking sticks. These canes are more stable and have the added advantage of being able to stand up on their own to allow the user to locate the stick easily if they leave it somewhere. Although the added stability comes at a cost- quad sticks are slightly heavier than their singular-legged cousins.
Another frequently used mobility aid is crutches. A pair of crutches is commonly recommended for people rehabilitating from a leg or groin injury. The stereotypical design that most people associate with are underarm crutches. Underarm crutches are available to buy in a host of materials- timber crutches are relatively outdated nowadays but are still available to purchase if necessary, though most places have opted for aluminium crutches. Aluminium underarm crutches are easy to adjust (simply press the brass button on most models), are the same weight if not lighter, and are safer due to their increased strength.
However, underarm crutches are not always the best option- especially for people with weak upper bodies or permanent users. More suitable for these people are Canadian crutches- more commonly known as forearm crutches. This particular design allows the user to place their weight on the handle at roughly hip height, rather than under the person’s arms. It is less likely to pinch their nerves and it is often women in particular who recommend this style over underarm crutches to reduce the pressure on their upper body.
Forearm crutches can be purchased cost effectively for short-to-medium term use or special models for permanent and heavy duty users. There are a number of good heavy duty models- most notably the Coopers type of forearm crutches. This particular brand has a number of good features- such as moulded soft handgrips, non-adjustable stem for extra strength and double-adjustment to get the dimensions right.
If you need any information on forearm crutches please feel free to contact the Mobility Shop at www.mobilityshop.com.au or call 1300 133 505 to speak to a representative.