Walkers and Canes

Custom fit is crucial

It’s never advisable to use an assistive device not custom fitted for you. In fact, an improperly used walking aid can actually increase your risk of falls.

You may need a little help getting around. A cane or walker may help provide the balance and stability you need.

The licensed physical therapists in the Scott & White Division of Physical Therapy can professionally assess and fit you for assistive walking aids to help prevent falls.

Physical & Cognitive Assessments

To aid in the selection of the proper assistive device, your physical therapist will:

  • Assess your gait and balance
  • Measure your height, leg length and arm length
  • Assess your physical and cognitive abilities

With information from your assessments, your physical therapist can help you select the best walker or cane.

Walkers

Walkers come in a wide variety of styles. Each type requires differing levels of physical and cognitive ability to use.

There are three main types of canes:

  • No wheels – requires upper-body strength and good balance
  • 2 wheels – good for people with problems with their cognition, balance or vision
  • 4 wheels – good for people who are cognitively and physically strong; fast moving; has brakes, basket and a seat

Tips for Selecting the Right Walker

 

  • Handles should be at the level of your hips.
  • Your elbows should be slightly bent when you’re holding the handles.

Tips for Using Your Walker

  • All four wheels or tips should be on the ground before you put your weight down.
  • Look forward – not down – when you walk.
  • Push or lift your walker a few inches but no more than arm’s length in front of you.
  • Wear rubber- or non-skid soled shoes.
  • Use a fanny pack or small backpack if you need to carry items while you’re using a walker.

Canes

A cane is not one-size-fits-all. It should be tailored to fit you. Don’t buy one from a garage sale or make one from a tree in your yard.

There are two main types of canes:

  • Single tip
  • Four-pronged

Tips for Selecting the Right Cane

  • The can should be custom fitted specifically for your height.
  • It should be at the height of the bend of your wrists when your arms are at your sides.
  • If not the right height, it will throw off your center of gravity.
  • Your elbow should be slightly bent when you’re holding the cane.

Tips for Using Your Cane

  • Should be used in the opposite hand as your injured or weak leg. 
  • Remember: Opposite arm as leg.
  • Select a cane with a comfortable handle
  • Look forward – not down – when you walk.
  • Check the tips of your cane daily, replacing worn tips.
  • Wear rubber- or non-skid soled shoes.
  • Use a fanny pack or small backpack if you need to carry items while you’re using a cane.

Patient Resource Center

•    Walk This Way: Canes & Walkers
•    A List of Fall Risks


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