Whether you have recently had surgery, are physically disabled, or suffer from arthritis or another medical condition that affects your mobility, assistive walking devices can help you to stand and move around with a decreased risk of falling. If you find it difficult to walk and need help getting about in your home and/or when going out, you should ask for the advice of a health care professional in choosing a mobility aid that is right for your needs.
1.Talk to an orthopedist, an occupational therapist or a physical therapist about the correct length and positioning of crutches, as you will be using your hands to support your weight. Crutches are fitted according to a person’s height; therefore, when you stand your elbows should be slightly bent at about a 20-degree angle with the handgrips even with the hip joint. The American Association of Ankle Surgeons (AAAS) points out that if crutches are sized properly, you should be able to fully extend your elbow each time you step forward. Holding one crutch against your side, adjust the crutch so that the crutch pad at the top measures no more than one to two inches below the axilla, the area under the arm where the arm connects to the shoulder.
2.Choose between wooden or aluminum crutches. Wooden crutches may cost less, but crutches constructed of aluminum are lighter in weight, and therefore are easier to use. Keep in mind, too, that crutches with contoured handles are more comfortable than crutches designed with rounded handles. This may be helpful if you suffer from arthritis or other condition that weakens your grip.
3.Consider purchasing an adjustable cane if you wear different styles of shoes. A cane provides balance and support so that a person does not fall. To get a proper fit, the top of the cane should be at the same level as the crease on the backside of your wrist. With your shoes on, measure the distance from your wrist to the floor. When standing with a cane, your elbow should bend at a 15- to 20-degree angle.
4.Check for rubber tips on the bottom of crutches and canes. These can help prevent you from slipping and falling. Inspect the tips on a routine basis and replace them as soon as they show any signs of wear. You can purchase replacement tips at most local pharmacies or medical supply stores
5.Select a walker that is appropriate for your particular needs. While a standard walker does not have wheels, it provides a person with greater stability when walking, but requires more energy to use. A rolling walker comes with either two or four wheels, which may be fixed or swivel. You might also want a walker that folds for easy transport.
6.Adjust the walker to your height. To do this, stand with your arms resting in a relaxed position at your sides. The handles should be at the same height as your wrists. When you use the walker, your elbows should be slightly bent. Correct fit is important as a walker is made to support up to half of a person’s body weight. If your arms do not bend at a comfortable angle, you could be putting stress on your shoulders and back.
7.Make certain that any kind of mobility aid feels right when you walk. If not, talk to your doctor or physical therapist about making the necessary adjustments.