Mobility Walking Aids
The traditional wooden walking stick has been joined by several other types of mobility products to help those who have difficulties walking. These range from walking stick accessories to 4 wheeled walkers.
Often used to take some of the weight off the affected leg, a walking stick is usually held in the opposite hand to the affected leg. This might seem strange, but it allows the stick to take some of the weight. Some people may prefer to hold the walking stick in their dominant hand which may be on the weaker or injured side. Nowadays lightweight, folding and coloured walking sticks are as common place as wooden walking sticks. Ergonomic and more comfortable handles help to spread the pressure and ease the load on the wrist.
If you are in the market for a walking stick, there are several things to consider before making your purchase. These include how often the stick will be used, where it will be used, and whether it will be carried with you all the time.
If the stick is to be used occasionally, then it would make financial sense to choose a budget model. These models tend not to fold, and not to be adjustable, so it wise to ensure that you buy the right size. If it is to be used all day everyday, then a more comfortable ergonomically designed stick will be more suitable. If you intend to take your stick with you wherever you go, then a lightweight folding walking stick will be easier to. One suitable for all types of terrain might be more appropriate if you intend to use your walking stick outdoors off the beaten track.
Once you have decided on the type of walking stick, you can choose from various models and types of handle. Some handles are ergonomically designed for either the left or right hand, and others are suitable for either hand. A T-shaped handle spreads the weight across the whole palm to make it more comfortable than a standard walking stick. Shock-absorbing sticks cushion the hand with a soft handle and a flexible ferrule.
Tripod sticks and quad sticks are similar to walking sticks, but have a 3 or 4 feet. These types of walking stick can be beneficial to those who lean on their stick, as well as to those who want the additional stability that extra feet can offer.
Once you have purchased your walking stick, there are a range of accessories that can make carrying or storing it easier. A bag designed for a folding walking stick can be a convenient choice if you carry your stick with you all the time. This means that it will fit into a smaller space and can be left in a handbag or the glove compartment of the car or perhaps even a large coat pocket so that you never need be without it. A wrist strap will be indispensable for those with a weak grip that may struggle to hold onto a walking stick. It also means that it is not necessary to put the stick down when shopping or opening doors for example. Stick clips and holders allow the walking stick to be kept close to hand and upright when not in use. Walking stick holders are also available for mobility scooters, so that you can have your stick with you when you are out and about. Replacement or different types of ferrules are available for walking sticks and walking frames. Different ferrules can be more suitable for outdoors, and a pivoting ferrule can provide additional stability in wet and slippery conditions.
Elbow crutches can be the most appropriate walking aid for some people, especially for those recovering from an injury. They are usually adjustable to make them more comfortable and offer the right level of support. Crutches may be available in different colours, depending on the model.
Walking frames are commonly known as Zimmer frames, and are available with and without wheels at the front. Some models will fold for transport and storage and some are height adjustable too. They are usually made of aluminium and are lightweight, weighing around 4-7lbs (2-3Kg). They can be used indoors and out, and are ideal for people who need more support that a walking stick can provide such as those recuperating from leg and back injuries.
Walkers and rollators are similar to walking frames, and have either 3 or 4 wheels and are usually height adjustable. They have brakes which can be similar to bicycle brakes, and some models have brakes which can be locked, so that the walker can be left on a slope unattended and it will stay there. The other type of brake is operated when the user leaning down on the handles, the walker then slows down and stops. Walkers with push down brakes are not ideal for every body, as people who lean on the walker whilst walker can inadvertently cause the brakes to come and on, and come to an unexpected halt. However, for those people with limited mobility and dexterity who find operating traditional style brakes difficult, the push down brake is a suitable alternative.
Some models of walker have a bag supplied, or available as an optional extra. This makes the walker ideal for shopping trips and days out. This allows the walker to take the weight and bulk of items that would previously be carried either about the person, or in a bag. There are some models of 4 wheel walker available that have a built in seat. This adds to the convenience of the walker, and means that perhaps you might not need to limit your journeys if you tire easily. Most models of walker are very easy to fold for transport and storage. Although slightly heavier than walking frames, walkers are pushed rather than lifted and carried, so the weight difference should not be an issue.
Baskets and bags are available for walkers, and mean that you can carry more on your walker. Smaller items that might slip through the holes in a basket can be carried in a bag without fear of losing them. Also, a bag can be left attached to the walker once it is folded, whereas a basket has to be removed.
Why not see if any of these could make your life easier.