Millions of Americans, including approximately one-quarter of the senior population, use some sort of assistive device to help them get around, with the number increasing by 50 percent in the past decade. Many of these individuals use a cane, either by itself or in conjunction with other assistive devices.
If you have sustained an acute injury or suffer from a debilitating chronic ailment that affects your ability to walk, you may have thought about getting a cane for your own daily use. Here are three key considerations to help guide your way toward selecting and making proper use of this helpful form of support.
- Canes Versus Other Walking Aids
Before you leap into the purchase of a cane, you must consider whether this device will give you the kind of stability and support you really need.
For instance, if your doctor has ordered you to keep all weight off of your foot or leg for a certain period, you will need to purchase a crutch that assumes all the weight on the affected side of the body. Once you can bear some weight on the injured or ailing limb, you can graduate to a cane for partial weight and balance support.
If your legs can bear weight but you require stability support for both sides of your body, consider getting a walker instead of a cane. This device has wheeled or non-wheeled legs that stabilize the body as you guide its forward motion and direction with your hands.
- Cane Sizing and Selection
Once you have determined that you need a cane, you need to choose a model that will fit your bodily proportions. A too-short cane will force you to lean awkwardly and uncomfortably to one side, while a too-tall cane may throw your weight distribution toward the opposite side.
You can tell whether a cane will fit you properly by measuring it against the side of your leg. Your cane’s handle should come up to where you feel your hip bone meet your upper thigh. When you grasp the handle, your elbow should assume a 20-degree bend. (Ask your doctor or physical therapist to confirm this angle.)
Many metal canes feature a set of holes that accept a screw, allowing you to adjust the set the height of the cane to suit your needs. By contrast, wooden canes come in a single size. If you choose a wooden cane, have your ideal cane measurement taken beforehand and make sure that the product you buy conforms to it.
- Cane Correct Use
Many cane users naturally assume that they should position the cane on the same side as the limb that requires additional support. In reality, however, the cane should go on the opposite side of the body. This arrangement supports your full body weight on the affected limb’s side whenever you take a step with the healthy limb.
Proper cane use on stairs calls for the right technique. With your cane supporting your weaker limb (on the opposite side of the body), use your stronger limb to ascend to the next stair, then allow the weaker limb and cane to join it. Descend stairs in three steps: the cane first, then the weaker limb, then the stronger limb.
Corner Home Medical can serve as your resource for canes as well many other kinds of walking aids and medical devices. Browse our online store to find the perfect cane for your needs and preferences.