Broken bones in your legs or feet, surgical procedures performed on your lower limbs, and stroke recovery are three circumstances that may make using crutches or a cane necessary. If one of these situations applies to you or someone you are providing care to, it is important to know how to properly choose and use these mobility aids. That is what we are going to share with you in this post.
Choosing the Right One
In deciding on which cane to purchase, important issues you may want to consider are:
- How often are you going to need to use the cane? If you are going to need to use the cane all the time or most of the time, you will probably want to avoid the standard candy cane shaped version with the curved handle. This type of cane is harder to grip than others, making it less comfortable than other styles.
- Single tip or quad tip? This is another choice you will have to make where how often you will be using the cane factors in. A single tip is effective, but a quad tip provides more support; however, it can be awkward to use. If you are using this mobility aid for stroke recovery, a quad tip is most likely the wiser choice, as it will provide more assistance in preventing falls.
- Get a grip - You can opt for a foam grip or one that is shaped to fit your hand. If you have trouble grasping objects with your fingers, a larger grip is going to suit you better.
- Height - If adjusting your cane is important, a wooden cane is not what you need as they must be cut to the correct height. In this case, you would want to go with an aluminum or other cane type with height adjustment capabilities.
Considerations for selecting crutches include:
- Standard or forearm? Standard crutches are the ones that you place under your armpits, while forearm crutches have cuffs that go around your lower arms. Forearm crutches are recommended only for those with good coordination and a strong upper body.
- Grips - Just as with the cane above, grips are important. You want to choose crutches that have comfortable grips and that are heavily padded on top.
Proper Use of Canes and Crutches
Three basics to help you effectively and safely use your cane are:
- Hold your cane in the hand that is opposite to the side of the body that needs support
- Ensure your elbow is slightly bent when you are holding your cane
- When you are walking, your injured leg and the cane should both swing and touch the ground in unison.
Three tips for using your crutches in a safe and effective manner include:
- When you are standing up, make sure that the tops of the crutches are 1-1 1/2 inches below your armpits
- Put them ahead of you - When you are walking, lean slightly forward and put the crutches a foot ahead of you, be careful to shift your weight on the crutches and not on the injured limb.
- Ensure that the chair is sturdy when sitting down and back up to it, put your injured foot in front and hold both crutches in one hand so that you can use the free hand to feel for the chair as you slowly lower yourself into it.
Hopefully you won't have to use a cane or crutches, but if you do, we hope that this information will help you in choosing and effectively using these aids.