An individual’s ability to move around can be limited due to several factors which can affect their safety and independence. Walking sticks and crutches act as mobility aids for individuals who have disabilities or injuries and for the elderly who experience weakness or pain. It can enable you to perform your daily activities more safely, with confidence.
A waking stick for elders can be used to aid walking and assist them to maintain balance and minimize the risk of falling. Owing to its versatility, often a pair of walking sticks can be used as a stick to lift you off the ground, for hiking in uneven terrain or to simply balance yourself whist walking. It can aid in walking normally, while taking weight off of a sore, injured or weaker foot, ankle, hip or knee.
A walking stick for handicapped individuals can take away some of the burden of immobility and help them regain independence by providing support. A stick commonly features a sturdy rubber tip that stays gripped to the ground for greater safety and stability.
They are most commonly made of aluminum to ensure they are lightweight and easy to lift, allowing you to move around freely without the burden of having to carry something heavy.
Another type of mobility aid is a cane walking stick and are often distinguished by the shape of the handle. Walking canes are for support and balance, whereas walking sticks are mainly for balance.
Types of Walking Sticks
If you are unstable on your feet or have an injury, or condition that makes it difficult to balance, a walking stick can help improve your mobility.
Canes and walking sticks come in different sizes and lengths. Individuals can buy a walking stick online and choose from different types available - where each one can provide a solution for a specific need.
i. Cane walking stick
Canes are generally used by unsteady, but independent walkers for balance support. Not all canes are manufactured to support a person's full body weight as they are extremely lightweight in nature.
ii. Wooden walking stick
A wooden stick features a traditional design that has a crook handle and are available in various sizes, which are designed to bear different types of loads.
iii. Metal walking stick
These tend to be stronger than wooden walking sticks and are made from lightweight metals that are sturdy enough to bear body weight, but still light enough to allow you to move around where needed.
iv. Foldable walking stick
A lightweight metal walking stick, it comes with sectioned shafts that can be folded for easy storage and portability. Also known as a collapsible walking stick, they are available in two types – one which has a fixed height or one where the height can be adjusted.
v. Walking stick with seat
These are particularly used by people that suffer from a heart condition or respiratory problems and need to rest wherever and whenever necessary. These are not recommended for people who need to use a walking stick to bear their weight, as the addition of a seat can affect the balance of the stick.
Also referred to as a walking stick chair, it is designed to provide a comfortable and stable seat to rest on when open, to regain your strength and acts as a sturdy and supportive walking stick when closed.
vi. Tripod walking stick
The Tripod stick can be used as a walking stick for handicapped individuals and is the perfect solution for the elderly, or patients who have trouble walking, or standing. It is a stick that features three sturdy legs that offer unwavering balance and stability. The base of the stick has a heavy-duty ferrule fitted at the ends of each leg to prevent the stick from slipping when in use, improving user safety
vii. Quadruped walking stick
Similar to a tripod walking stick, a quadruped stick can be distinguished by the number of legs it features. It has 4 legs for additional safety and every aspect of the walking stick is designed for user convenience and support.
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) About Walking Sticks
1. How to choose a walking stick?
The most common styles of walking sticks feature a single leg, three or four legs. Walking stick for elders and physically challenged individuals are available, with each providing various benefits.
• Finding the right height - It is important to have a cane that’s the correct length to prevent discomfort while walking. If the stick is too long, it can lead to additional strain on areas such as your shoulder or back. And a stick that is too short may cause instability when you exert your weight on it.
• The handle - Choosing an appropriately sized handle will relieve unnecessary stress on joints and must be contoured to fit the shape of your palm to relieve wrist pressure.
• Walking stick ferrules - A walking stick features a little rubber cap that is found on the bottom of the walking stick to help grip the surface of the ground. This allows you to lean your weight on your stick with confidence. It is easy to change the rubber tip and must be done regularly to ensure safety.
2. How do you measure the height of your walking stick or cane?
• Wear your daily footwear
• Stand upright as you normally would
• Allow your arms to fall to your sides naturally without locking your elbows
• With the help of measuring tape, have a family member measure the distance from your wrist bone to the ground
Walking Sticks & Crutches Walking Sticks from various brands
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The purpose of a crutch is to provide support while walking, relieving weight from one foot or leg. Crutches can be used as a preventative measure to avoid falls or simply to provide support for those who are unsteady on their feet. Crutches for elders help improve balance, stability and minimizes the risks of falling by bearing body weight and taking the strain off muscles.
Different Types of Crutches and Their Uses
There are different types of crutches, each having a unique feature. It is important to understand which suits your needs the best, weighing all factors such as the need, extent of injury, material, stability, mobility etc.
• Axillary crutches – These are the most commonly used crutches and are also referred to as underarm crutches. Made of wood or aluminium, these are usually used by people that have a temporary disability, mostly caused due to an injury. Underarm crutches can be adjusted according to your height and should be placed below the armpit and away from your foot to avoid an injury.
• Forearm crutches – It features a cuff that goes around the forearm and is also known as an elbow crutch, or "Lofstrand" crutch. These crutches are more likely to be used by people with long term disabilities.
• Strutters – This crutch is a type of underarm crutch that features an armrest and a hand grip. It has a wider crutch base that remain flat on the floor for better stability. This allows for even weight distribution and can be used by people with poor leg strength.
• Platform - Designed for people that have weak wrists or a poor grip, these are also known as known as triceps crutches. They are mostly used by people that have severe disabilities, like cerebral palsy or arthritis.
• Leg support - Leg support crutches are used by people who have a temporary injury below the knee or due to injuries that leave the legs immobilized.
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) About Crutches
1. How to use crutches?
It is important to consult your doctor, or physiotherapist to understand how to use a crutch and what height would be most suitable. If a patient has never used a crutch, they should not do so without consulting a trained assistant or health expert.
2. How do I choose the right crutch?
Crutches are available in different sizes that are suitable for people with various heights. You need to make sure they are properly adjusted to match your height and fit your body. The right size along with proper crutch positioning is imperative to move around comfortably.
3. How to walk with crutches?
Every crutch requires some practice before you can use it without any discomfort while performing daily tasks.
There are several different walking patterns or “gaits” that an individual using crutches may follow.
Based on your physical condition and what will work best for you, your medical examiner will demonstrate and teach you how to walk with crutches.
Below are the common types of gait patterns that you can follow when walking with crutches –
• Four-Point Gaiti. Indication - This is the most commonly used pattern to offer support, when both legs are in a weakened condition. The patient makes use of two crutches and both legs for maximum stability while walking.
ii. Pattern sequence – Put the right crutch out and step forward with the left foot. Then put the left crutch out and step with your right foot. Then repeat.
• Three-Point Gaiti. Indication - This is used when you are unable to bear weight on an injured leg and still need the assistance of crutches. It can be used for physical conditions like fractures, pain or amputations.
ii. Pattern sequence – First move both the crutches and the weak leg forward. Then you move the injured leg while exerting your weight on the crutches and the unaffected leg.
• Two-Point Crutch Gaiti. Indication - This is used when you experience weakness in both legs and due to poor coordination. It can
be used for physical conditions like fractures, pain or amputations. The two-point gait is known to be a difficult type of walk for a patient to get comfortable with.
ii. Pattern sequence – Left crutch and right foot together, then the right crutch and left foot together. Repeat.
iii. Swing through Gait Indication - It can be used for patients whose lower extremities (hip, thigh, knee, lower leg, ankle, and foot) are paralyzed and/or in braces.
iv. Pattern sequence – Move both the crutches forward together. Then while bearing all weight down on both crutches, move both legs forward in front of the crutches (past the crutches).
v. Swing to Gait Indication - A person with a non-weight bearing injury generally performs a "swing-to" gait: lifting the
affected leg, the user places both crutches in front of himself, and then swings his uninjured leg to meet the crutches.
vi. Pattern sequence – Both the crutches are advanced forward and then while bearing all weight down on both crutches, move both the legs forward and place them beside the crutches, rather than in front of them.
4. How to use crutches on stairs?
If the stairs have a sturdy rail, you can use one crutch and hold the rail with the other hand.
But if there are no rails present, use the crutches normally, holding one in each hand.
When climbing up the stairs with or without a railing
When climbing upstairs, face the stairs and hold the rail with one hand. First step up with your unaffected foot, while keeping your injured foot behind you. As you take the next step with your good leg, lean on the crutches and again bring your injured foot up from behind.
If you climb up the stairs without a railing, place a crutch under each arm and bring forward your good foot, then your injured foot while exerting your weight on the crutches.
When going down the stairs
While descending the stairs, first place the crutches forward on the lower step, while putting your injured foot forward. Then move your good step, while supporting yourself with the crutches.
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Crutches provide support to those who cannot maintain balance or need to take weight off one, or both, of your legs. Buy different types of crutches online from Seniority to reduce discomfort and assist walking.
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